We’re examining why it’s important to be a learner when embroiled in a conflict. The principle: “leader, know thyself!”

When you’re presented with a complaint about you, become a CSI agent: perceptive, curious, patient, attentive.CSI 6

Suspend the very natural impulse to get out of this—quick. Challenge yourself to learn as much as you can, and to model a way to respond to conflict.

If you’re like me, you have an Achilles heel in this area. As a child and teenager, I was about as likely as anyone to occasionally do bone-headed things. I was probably as vulnerable as the next teenage boy to forget something I’d said I’d do, to impulsively leap before thinking things through, and for failing to consider who else might be impacted by something I did or left undone.

Rarely, if ever, did I intend evil or harm toward anyone, and when I learned of my mistake, I did what I could to repair the breach.

Yet, one of our family dynamics was that it was assumed that I meant to hurt or embarrass or slight another. That my motives were malicious, evil, cruel. So regularly and forcefully were my motives impugned that I became unsure of them, myself. I developed a hyper-sensitivity to accusations about my heart and intention.

To this day, I’m vulnerable here. When we disagree over tactics, over ideas, over differing ways to accomplish things, I’m fine.   But, when you accuse me of intending evil, of purposing to hurt someone, of premeditated unkindness… my auto-pilot switches on:

I freeze.

I flush.

My heart races.

My mental mechanisms seize up.

Instantly, I’m 11 years old again and I’m caught: the cruel, malevolence of my heart has been exposed and I didn’t even know it!   In this condition, I’m lousy in a conflict! Fight and flight appear irresistible.

Because I’ve studied my vulnerabilities (with the help of great coaching and counseling), I’m able to get altitude in real time … when it counts most.

I’m able to coach myself in the moment, interrupt my emotional machinery, and return to the here-and-now:

CSI…

How about you?

What are your unique vulnerabilities? What are the recurring themes in your conflicts—especially of those where you behave least maturely?

You’ll be well served to chronicle these and to plan in advance how you’ll handle yourself when these buttons get pushed. You, and those who love you, will be glad you did!

Being in Conflict 6.docx

KRK 9/15/2014