Archive for conflict

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 I’m Talking, But You Aren’t Listening!Have you ever been in this situation? You’re in a meeting where a decision is on the table. Unfortunately, there is a conflict standing between certain members of the team (perhaps you are one of them) and a truly solid decision. The issue has been discussed for some time, but no resolution seems forthcoming. The talking seems to be going nowhere. Or perhaps this variation: You and your intimate partner — or perhaps your child — are embroiled in a conflict. You’re doing your best to explain how you feel about it — and it’s very important to you that they understand your point of view. But no matter how carefully you choose your words, the other person seems to get more and more committed to their point of view and less and less interested in yours.

No matter what the situation, it’s extremely frustrating when we don’t feel heard. Particularly when we take great care to choose our words carefully, manage the conflict skillfully, and manage our emotions with maturity and sensitivity. What more can we possibly do to turn the situation around? Why in the world is the other person or parties involved not responding to our efforts?!

Words are Often Overrated

We live in a primarily verbal society. We rely on words to communicate almost entirely — whether those words be spoken or written (which includes texting). You’re reading this newsletter. You likely email dozens of times in the course of a day. You speak and speak. And it is very important that we learn to communicate effectively when it comes to words. Without the ability to communicate our ideas clearly and passionately — so that others get excited about them — we lose the ability to connect with others and gain support for our plans.

However, there are times when we need to stop talking and choose something else. And there are two something elses I would like you to try this month:

  1. Active listening.
  2. Physically changing your position while remaining silent.

Active Listening

If you’ve taken any management, coaching, counseling, or parenting courses, you’ve likely been exposed to the skill of active listening. The question is, do you choose to utilize your knowledge when it counts? It’s easy to engage in active listening when we like what we’re hearing, or when we’re in a “coaching mindset.” It’s not so easy to do this when we’re smack in the middle of our very own personal or professional conflict. But that is just the time when this skill will be the most valuable. To review, active listening is the ability to step into the other person’s shoes and not just hear the words, but also really understand what they are saying from their perspective. Then, using that understanding, we reflect back what we’re hearing and ask for clarification to make sure we’ve received the message accurately. To take this skill to the next level, we can add comments that reflect our understanding of their emotional experience, such as “that must be very frustrating” or “anyone in that situation would feel angry — no wonder you’ve taken no action on this (if that is the case).” If they correct us, there is no need to take it personally; we are gaining greater clarity as to what their experience really is. Simply thank them for clarifying and continue to reflect back. You can prompt with questions such as “what else is happening?” or “is there more?”. You may be surprised to discover that there is, in fact, more that has built up over time.

The value of active listening is that once the other person feels truly heard, you will likely have some new information about the situation to consider for yourself. Perhaps you didn’t have the whole picture before. You may even choose to alter your original plan due to the additional information you now have. In addition, it is much easier to motivate and inspire others when they feel heard. It is almost impossible to do so by talking alone because until we have heard them, we don’t really know what their concerns and issues are, so how can we motivate and inspire them anyway?

If you would like to increase your skills in active listening, contact us. Coaching can help you build your listening skills for any situation.

Physically changing your position can change everything

When we are stuck emotionally and mentally, we are almost always stuck physically in some way as well. We hold our breath. We stop moving. This is part of the fight or flight response that is built into our physiology. No matter how much we try to get unstuck in our thinking or our feelings, there are times when what we really need to do is get unstuck in our bodies first. So, stop talking and start moving! Get up and take a short walk. Stretch. Take several deep breaths. If you’re in a meeting, just get up and walk around the room. Change your seat at the table if you can. Invite everyone to get up and move around the room and then come back to the table. If you’re at home, go outside for a few minutes. Ask your partner or child to table the conversation for a few minutes (set a time limit) and take a “body break” — meaning that you both go do something physical. Run up and down the stairs a few times. Do a downward facing dog or a few jumping jacks.

You will be very surprised by how shifting your body can shift your thinking and feeling. It can sometimes feel to me as if I literally was stuck in a certain way of thinking or feeling because my body was stuck in a certain posture or position. Once I change that, my brain releases itself to try on something new. Remember, we are not our brains. We are whole body beings. So, make use of that whole body intelligence and see what new things start to happen for you.

Next newsletter, I’ll follow up with this article. I wonder what new things you will have tried by then? I wonder what you will discover if you try BOTH techniques in one situation? Write to me and let me know about your results. I love hearing from you.

Life Strategies

What I’m reading now

Life Strategies: Doing What Works, Doing What Matters (Phillip C. Mcgraw, Ph.D.): You probably know him as Dr. Phil, and many people I speak with aren’t fond of his TV persona. While I would have to agree with that opinion, I have to confess that his no-nonsense approach to addressing common excuses for NOT taking action is very effective. Even coaches have excuses, and, just like you, we don’t like looking at them. If you’re ready to get down and dirty with yourself, this might be the book for you!


Michelle Kunz: Life Coach, Career Coach, Executive Coach

About Michelle Kunz

Michelle earned her Certified Professional Coach (CPC) certification from the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC), an International Coach Federation (ICF) – accredited coach training program. She has also earned the ICF Professional Certified Coach (PCC) credential and is qualified to administer, interpret and debrief the Myers-Briggs, FIRO-B, and Energy Leadership assessments. She is currently accepting a limited number of new clients interested in life coaching, career coaching, executive coaching, or leadership training and development.


Follow Up

What Juicy Vision Did You Create? Last month we talked about creating juicy new visions so you could take new actions and produce new results. Something you could commit to taking action on, that you could already get excited about, and where you could create an enticing vision of success that inspires and delights you. How did you do?


Living Fearlessly!

Free Webinar May 30 at 8 pm EDT: Register now for this fun, interactive webinar! Learn how to move past the fear that stops you dead in your tracks or keeps you repeating undesirable patterns of behavior. Live the life you REALLY want and deserve. To register now click here. Seats are limited!



From the PEL Blog

Both cooperation and competition are vital to success: “The ability to be simultaneously cooperative and competitive is an art form that requires practice and engages distinctive parts of your brain.” To read more about this interesting article from Psychology Today, check out the blog!

Copyright ©2012 PEL Coaching, LLC, All rights reserved.

Making Business Sing by Michelle Kunz

I am by formal education a professionally trained opera singer, with a hard earned doctorate’s initials after my name when I choose to add them. Transitioning to coaching was a natural extension of having spent many years teaching in studio, masterclass and classroom situations, but it wasn’t until recently that I noticed a very powerful similarity between how an organization and an opera performance work (or not).

There are obvious metaphors to be drawn, and they are certainly worthy of discussion, but one I’d like to focus on in this first post is the primary relationship between conductor and principal artist (management and staff). Typically in a high level opera house, both conductor and artist are hired several years in advance of the actual performance, and often do not actually meet until the rehearsal period has commenced. In the interim, both have studied hard to know the score, the plot, the intricacies of musical phrasing, articulation, tempi and dynamics, and have developed ideas about how this opera is going to be sung.

These ideas, of course, are based on their point of view. The conductor is looking at the opera as a whole — orchestra, chorus, small roles, secondary roles and principal roles. Solo arias as well as ensembles and even possibly ballets. The entire musical idea in its gestalt lies with the conductor, and with a well known opera, whether the performance will be stale or fresh depends on how well he or she can differentiate his ideas from others who have come before. At first rehearsals with both orchestra and singers (individuals and chorus), the conductor must establish an essential balance of authority and likability as well as possess the ability to communicate her unique ideas with utmost clarity to the musicians.

The singer, meanwhile, is looking at the opera as a whole as well, but is focusing more closely on his or her specific role in the overall picture. She must take into consideration her technical abilities, her temperament, her physical stamina, her musical preferences and abilities, her previous experiences with the piece, her understanding and development of the character and her relationship to the others in the opera, and any other physical, emotional, mental or intellectual limitations or strengths which will help or hinder a fantastic performance.

If the opera in question is popular, it is highly likely that both conductor and singer have performed this piece before, perhaps many times, with success (or failure) before meeting each other for the first time. They may have strongly held opinions about how it should go. And these opinions may not match at all.

So far do we see any similarities at all between management and staff?

Now comes the tricky part. On first meeting if the conductor does not manage to establish some truly great rapport with the singer, the likelihood of any new and fresh musical ideas coming out of the relationship between the two is pretty close to doomed. A singer has a lot to manage in the moment of a performance. To ask them to change anything they have already done with success in the past is asking a lot. It’s risky. To ask that to happen when you don’t like the conductor, or when you don’t trust their judgment or their values, or their ability to hold it together when the going gets tough — or just be there for you if you get a little shaky — is asking too much.

I have personally witnessed conductors who totally abandon the stage during a performance. They don’t know the opera, don’t know the music, have no idea what the needs of the stage are, and are focused primarily on the pit. Is a train wreck in that situation such a shock?

On the other hand, I have also personally witnessed the will — or carelessness — of a singer ruin the hard work of rehearsal during a performance. They either forget to watch the conductor and get out of sync with everyone else, or they decide they want to change things without warning, and suddenly everything is a little off for a while. There is a moment of panic while the entire attention of the conductor is not so much on making music as on preventing disaster.

Any other similarities coming to mind?

And we haven’t even brought in the effect this has on the ticket buying audience and long term subscribers — the bottom line.

Establishing those foundations of trust and open and healthy communication are essential from the very beginning of any working relationship, and they must be nurtured and maintained until the fat lady sings to ensure ongoing success. Without this foundation, any performance is on very shaky ground. Whether you’re on the stage or in the pit, this is not a good place to be.