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Many organizations contact us for conflict resolution for teams in Denver and Boulder. Crucial Conversations by Patterson is a popular book and method to deal with difficult conversations. Here are 3 tips to help you better handle your emotions during difficult conversations.

Tips for Handling Difficult Conversations – part 2

Even the most seasoned communicator can get off-track when emotions are high. Here are 3 tips for getting back to having a productive conversation.

I recently coached a VP who was having difficulties with another executive team member. She consistently shared her frustration about the other’s lack of effective communication and generally placed blame without regard for her part in the conflicts. Sound familiar? We can help! We provide conflict resolution for teams in Denver and Boulder, Colorado.

We ALL can get stuck in the blame trap, especially when our emotions are activated. Here are a few tips for checking your self before pointing the finger.

1. Notice if you are triggered in fight or flight. When the stakes of a conversation escalate, emotions often do too. Most of us have a pattern of either withdrawing (flight) or getting angry (fight) when our needs are not being met in a conversation. You must have a way to get back to a calm place so that you can act instead of react. Take a breath, take a break, go for a walk and reschedule the conversation if necessary. Nothing productive will get accomplished with heightened emotions. Stop and ask yourself, what am I feeling? Why? Getting your brain involved with the issue will help calm your emotions.

2. Be honest about your story. When we are emotionally triggered, we often start making up stories about the other person. We may THINK we are completely justified, but being “right” in a conflict rarely produces a better result. Listen closely when you find yourself thinking or saying things like “If only s/he would . . . ” “They never . . . ” or “It’s not my fault.” Such stories set up a victim/villain dichotomy, with you usually being the victim. Challenge what you are feeling about the situation. Your feeling is based on your thoughts about the situation. Is there any other way to look at what is happening? (hint, there always is!) Shift from your story to looking at the facts about the situation. Then, see how else you might view the facts. Get an objective listener to support you in getting out of your story if necessary.

3. Tell the rest of the story. You must be willing to look at your part in the conflict. And yes, you ALWAYS play a part! This is the skill of mastering your stories. The goal is to get back into dialogue, or meaningful conversation. Here are some questions to help you look at your part in a conflict.

Am I pretending not to notice my role in the conflict?

If I could see my part in this conflict, what would it be?

What might the others’ point of view be about me?

Why would a reasonable, decent human being do what the other is doing? (hint, if you start to judge here, you are still in your reactionary emotions!) Find a way to have compassion for the other.

What do I really want? (for myself, others, the relationship and the organization?) What would I do to act in alignment with that?

It takes effort to manage oneself well in conflict, but it is worth the effort!

We provide conflict resolution for teams in Denver and Boulder. We also do leadership coaching and training with teams around communication and conflict management in the Boulder, Denver area. Please contact us if we can be of service.

For your growth,

Jeannie Gunter, MA
Founder, Transformative Training
303 653-3097

Jeannie Gunter, MA

Jeannie Gunter, MA

Founder, Transformative Solutions

303 653-3097

Jeannie works with a wide variety of clients to help them increase their team effectiveness and leadership capacity in their teams. She has worked both nationally and internationally as an organizational consultant, facilitator, speaker and wilderness guide.

With a strong background in group dynamics, over the past 20 years Jeannie has guided hundreds of teams in a wide variety of organizations to successful outcomes in team, personal and professional development.


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