Problem-solving and conflict coaching

Do you ever feel like there's a revolving door to your office with one, never-ending request: Can you fix this problem for me?

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You’re acting defensive… No, I’m not! Managing defensiveness

Bringing up difficult topics often makes others defensive, especially when we’re asking them to acknowledge negative behavior or change in some way.

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Is compromise the best way to solve a conflict?

It seems reasonable. It's quick and easy. "Let's make a deal," you think, "we'll do a little give and take. We'll COMPROMISE!" And, in fact, it can be a wonderful way to get things resolved quickly when there's a time crunch and the outcome is only moderately important. On the other hand, if compromise is always the way you are resolving conflicts at work or at home you might start to feel some resentment.

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What is the secret to a long marriage?

I hate that question...a long marriage could mean years of misery. I appreciate that relationships take work and that means a commitment by both partners to stick it out when the going gets tough. But I don’t want an award for years of service--I want a relationship that is satisfying, fulfilling, contented, connected.

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All I want to do is help... so why do I feel so bad?

Most of us start out helping others because we care. We often try to help because we love the person and don’t want to see them struggling or hurting. Unfortunately, helping doesn’t alway work.

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Just Can’t Let It Go... Ruminating on Conflict

Many of us find it hard to let go of conflict situations. We go over and over in our minds how we felt, what we said, what the other person said, what we didn’t say and wish we had, what the other person didn’t do... and on and on and on. Rumination is tied to a sense of loss.

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Where is the line between "normal" and abusive in relationships?

By now everyone has probably heard the tale of the frog placed in the pot of water and set on the stove. Gradually the heat is turned up. The frog makes no attempt to get out of the pot. Because the temperature increases gradually, the frog doesn’t notice and thinks it is normal.

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What are your values? Speaking up starts with knowing what you want!

A line in an old country song goes, “You’ve got to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything.” If you don’t know what your values are, you’re likely to give in to the whims of those around you instead of living the life you really want. 

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How important is kindness to your relationship?

When we are struggling in a relationship, kindness may be the last thing on our mind. Anger, frustration, even sadness may block our ability to access good feelings about our partner. Yet, without feelings of loving kindness toward our partner, we decrease our incentive and ability to work through difficult issues.

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Have the courage to speak up and improve your relationship!

This quote really struck me, “Throughout years of my marriage I hesitated to speak my truth. While my intentions were honorable -- I wanted to keep the peace, I didn't want to introduce conflict, I was trying so hard to be a ‘good wife’.... By hiding my truth, trying to ignore hurt feelings, ‘sucking it up,’ I was doing myself and my ex-husband a great disservice.”

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And the righteous shall prevail...or will they?

Having mediating more than a thousand couples as they were divorcing, I’ve learned that nothing gets in the way of a good relationship or the ability to make progress through conflict more than righteousness. Righteousness is more than believing you are right. It is believing you are morally justified in your actions.

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Why are strong emotions so darn scary?

Many of us had shaming or even frightening experiences around our emotions as children. Perhaps when we cried other children, even our siblings, made fun of us or beat us up. Maybe our anger was met with punishment as we were made to sit in the corner or go to our rooms so the rest of the family wasn’t subjected to our “outbursts.” Or, we may have been told to stop embarrassing our parents by acting out our feelings in public.

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Lend Me Your Ear: Listening to improve relationships

In our fast-paced, multi-tasking world we might act like we’re listening, but are we really hearing what the other person is saying? Here are three quick tips to improve your listening and deepen your relationships with others.

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Teaming Up Against Destructive Conflict

Destructive conflict often sends people spiraling downward in a negative cycle of me versus you. This creation of “other” is the basis of conflict escalation which allows one person or group to dehumanize the other which makes it “okay” to perpetrate everything from indignities to violence. Why does this happen?

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What’s a BATNA and why do I need one?

The "Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement" dubbed a BATNA by authors Fisher & Ury.  Why do you need one? If you are preparing to negotiate and you don’t know your alternatives you are more likely to agree to something you could regret.

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The Blame Game: Fun to play, if you don’t want results

Most of us have been in a situation with a particularly difficult, frustrating person and found ourselves telling a friend, co-worker, or family member all about this jerk! How miserable they make our life, how if they would only change or go away, life would be better.

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Managing Conflict in the Workplace

recently read an article about a survey conducted by an international consulting firm that concluded 85% of workers had experienced conflict on the job. My immediate response was that the other 15% were either in denial or had just been hired. I say this because if you are human, you will experience conflict. There is no getting around it.

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“Panic to Action” Leads to Poor Results

When conflict hits it can feel like a crisis urging us to act quickly. That makes sense because adrenaline and other stress hormones flood our body and brain preparing us to take flight or fight. This can lead to heroic acts like lifting a car off a trapped person, but in our daily lives it more often leads to a panic to action that causes all kinds of bad decisions and outcomes.

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