When we’re mired in conflict, each of us tells ourselves stories. Our stories provide our interpretations of the situations in which we find ourselves and the others with whom we interact. These stories range from simple rationalizations to deep-set beliefs we hold about ourselves, the other person, or the way things are.
Our stories help us explain to ourselves why events unfolded as they did and why others acted in ways that make no sense to us. Sometimes we’re harder on ourselves than we would be on anyone else, assigning ourselves blame we don’t deserve. At other times, we’re the unfairly treated victim and we ignore the part we play in creating or maintaining the conflict. While many of our stories hold a kernel of truth, the stories themselves are fiction, not fact, and can cloud our thinking.
In many of our stories, we exaggerate our own innocence, leave out how we contribute to conflicts, and focus on other party’s flaws. We may pretend we’re helpless in ways we’re not, thus powerless to solve the predicaments in which we find ourselves.
Here’s a real-life example. I worked with a coaching client who told me her manager never reached out to her to ask her view of things.
“How have you reached out to him?” I asked.
My client didn’t answer but spoke again about how her manager should have reached to her. “If he had done so, these problems could have been solved.”
I asked my question again but differently, “Please tell me how you reached out to him and what happened.”
She looked confused, and then said, “Well, I haven’t. It’s not my responsibility.”
As we mentally tell our stories, whether to ourselves or others, our emotions and body respond. Our temper flares. Our stomach knots. Our teeth clench. Fear jolts through us. Although we feel in control when we tell our stories, our stories ultimately control us. They dictate how we feel and lead us to act in alignment with our stories. Often, our stories fuel escalating conflict.
It’s easy to see other’s stories and can be hard to decipher our own. But if you’re in a conflict today, here’s my question for you: “What stories do you tell yourself?”
If you liked this post, you might enjoy https://workplacecoachblog.com/2021/11/decoding-personality-conflicts-a-useful-framework-to-understand-whats-going-on/, https://workplacecoachblog.com/2021/10/own-your-piece-of-the-action/, https://workplacecoachblog.com/2021/07/own-your-part-versus-blame-resolve-conflict/ or this collection of 65 of my best articles published before I began the blog in the book, Solutions, rated a 4.8 out of 5 on amazon.com, https://amzn.to/3kQF7HR.
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