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The “Do Nots” of Conflict

Management Blog
by Cinnie Noble

There are a lot of things NOT to say or do when in conflict with someone else if we are wanting to resolve or mend things. There are also lots of things NOT to say to family, friends and others when they are in conflict if we are aiming to be supportive! Of course, some of us respond more positively than others, but based on my experience as a conflict management coach and mediator and in my own life, I hear many themes that commonly reflect the “do nots” in both these scenarios.

Considering this, here are a few suggested “do nots” about what not to say to the other person with whom we are in conflict if we want matters to resolve well between us:

  • “Just stay calm.”
  • “You’re just plain wrong.”
  • “You’re an idiot.” (or other name-calling)
  • “If you had a brain in your head…” (or other insults)
  • “I knew I couldn’t trust you.”
  • “That’s the last time I will ever consider you a friend.”

Avoiding, dismissing and gossiping about the person are also “do nots”.

When it comes to responding more positively to others like family, friends and colleagues who are in conflict, some “do nots” – what not to say – are:

  • “Just stay calm.” (notice this is a “do not say” when in conflict ourselves)
  • “The exact same thing happened to me.”
  • “Just forget about it.”
  • “Let it go. It’s not that important.” (Or, phrases such as “You’ll get over it”, or “It’ll pass”)
  • “You did nothing wrong.”
  • “Go out for a walk – it’ll clear your head.”

Giving advice, personalizing someone’s conflict experience, minimizing, dismissing and not listening are also “do nots”.

Based on the content, consider these Conflict Mastery Quest(ions):

  • What sorts of things do you not like the other person to say to you when you are in conflict with them (of the nature of things referred to above)?
  • What is most offensive for you about these things (your answer to the above question)?
  • What have you said to people with whom you are in conflict that doesn’t work well for them?
  • What do you think propels you to say those things (your answers to the above questions)?
  • How do you suppose you can stop yourself from the “do nots” towards people with whom you are in conflict?
  • What do you not like that friends, colleagues or family members say to you when you tell them about your conflicts?
  • For what specific reasons (your answer to the above)?
  • What are the “dos” that you want friends, colleagues or family members to say to you when you share your conflicts – that would feel more supportive?
  • What do you suppose are some best practices to stop ourselves from the “do nots” towards friends, colleagues and family members when they are in conflict?
  • What other “dos” and “do nots” can you think of that you will pay most attention to, going forward?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

Cinnie Noble

Cinnie Noble is a certified coach (PCC) and mediator and a former lawyer specializing in conflict management coaching. She is the author of two coaching books: Conflict Management Coaching: The CINERGY™ Model and Conflict Mastery: Questions to Guide You. MORE >

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