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In this course, we focused our conflict examples on the relationship between Jack, a manager, and Heather, his boss. It all started with Jack's failure to include Heather in an email loop about a new project he was taking on. And from there, we discovered lots of trigger points where things derailed. The conflict between Jack and Heather is mostly relational, and there is a difference in authority and power that makes it tricky. So, how do they get from intractability to cooperation? With patience, a lot of active listening, paraphrasing, and reframing.
In reality, it's very easy to slip back into blame. For example, once they begin uncovering the issues, Jack might be tempted to repeat, "I don't like how you hover over me." But he will get much further if he focuses on the future, not the past. He might say instead, "I need your support on new projects, and I need more autonomy, more freedom." Heather, on the other hand, might feel that Jack's request for more development conversations are excessive.
She might say, "I don't have time to hold your hand." But she can do much to preserve their relationship if she uncovers what Jack really wants and needs. In truth, they may discover that they aren't a good fit for each other. It's just as likely, however, that by employing conflict resolution tools, they will each take their part in the misunderstanding and discover where they are in alignment and where they can support each other, not just for mutual benefit, but for the greater good of the entire organization.
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