Viewing posts categorised under: Relationships

Is Conflict Getting in Your Way?

Posted by Susanne Earle in Relationships | 0 comments

3 Simple Steps to Turning Conflicts into Opportunities I learned something really important this week from watching a reality show. Yes, that’s right. While watching a married couple in the grips of an intense conflict, I realized three very important facts about conflicts and three simple steps to resolving them every time. Fact #1 – When we allow our saboteurs to interfere, conflict resolution is extremely unlikely. Our saboteurs are those habitual and automatic patterns of thinking that work against our best interests. Our saboteurs are our internal enemy. Everyone has saboteurs. They develop in early childhood to protect us from perceived physical and emotional threats. In the conflict I was witnessing on TV, the wife’s Controller saboteur needed to control the situation and her husband’s actions. The husband’s Avoider saboteur caused pent up feelings that festered and eventually erupted. Fact #2 – When we become stuck in our saboteur position during a conflict, we naturally create opposition in others. Our saboteur will vehemently defend our position to the bitter end and may even attack the position or character of the other party. This in turn triggers their saboteur, causing greater opposition and escalating emotions; a vicious negative cycle.


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 Fact #3 – When we engage our inner knowing, our deeper wisdom (sometimes referred to as our Higher Self, our Sage or our Captain), we can see the conflict as an opportunity for growth and a gift for building stronger relationships. So how do we shift from saboteur mode to Sage mode? Step #1 – Listen to and acknowledge the other side’s position. Many people in conflict sound like broken records, repeating themselves over and over again because they do not feel heard. When we do not feel heard, we are not willing to listen and the vicious cycle continues. But there is another choice. Rather than thinking about the next brilliant argument you will make in response to whatever is being said to you, try truly listening and acknowledging the other’s position. Repeat back what you heard in your own words, without offering solutions, to ensure understanding. This doesn’t mean you have to agree with them, it just conveys that you are seeking to understand. Once they feel totally heard, ask that they do the same for you. Listening and acknowledging immediately diffuses tension and sets the foundation for resolution. Step #2 – Empathize with the other’s position. We are often reluctant to do this because we worry that we will legitimize and encourage their position and downplay our own. Let that go. Empathy is not about analyzing or problem solving; it’s about feeling what it’s like to be in someone else’s shoes. Step #3 – Brainstorm solutions, narrow the choices, and prioritize actions. Moving to Step #3 without first moving through Step # 1 and #2 is usually a waste of time. Collaborating on a solution with your saboteurs engaged is like driving your car with four flat tires. Friction is high, there is little momentum and you are essentially stuck in one position. Resolving conflict with your Sage engaged is like installing racing slicks on your car.  There’s high traction which creates huge momentum and a winning solution!

Conflict Resolution

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The reality show couple, after much arguing, name-calling and character attacks, finally listened to each other, empathized with the other’s position and worked out a solution that both of them were happy with. When you are able to resolve conflicts using these three simple steps, you will bypass the emotional pain and drama, turning fights and disagreements into opportunities for ongoing learning. You will discover a great deal about yourself and be able to apply this knowledge to build strong and trusting relationships in all areas of your life.

Psychological Health and Safety: A Hard Lesson

Posted by Susanne Earle in Leadership, Newsletter, Relationships | 0 comments

In one month, Canada lost four military soldiers to suicide. Having been personally affected by suicide, I understand what this means to the families of these men. This is a truly a tragedy and unfortunately, is not the first time Canadian soldiers have taken their own lives. In 2011 and 2012, a total of 35 members of the Canadian Forces committed suicide. Mental health problems in the military are steadily increasing. Many soldiers who return home from war are struggling with serious psychological disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Tragically, those that are suffering are often hesitant to get help because of the stigma and the self-stigma of mental illness. In a warrior culture, soldiers have a problem stepping forward with mental health issues.


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  Often, these issues surface as drinking or drug problems. The military’s response to these problems has been described as very cold and completely inflexible, applying disciplinary action without regard to broader mental health issues. It seems leadership has taken the emotion out of dealing with these problems and seems to be in denial about mental illness in the military. And when s oldiers do decide to be upfront and come forward with their mental health issues, they are treated as a liability and pushed off to the side . Suicide happens because they feel they h ave lost everything they thought they had and have nothing left to live for. What’s happening in the Canadian military is a hard lesson for all organizations. I see many parallels to the military culture and the culture that is inherent in many companies and organizations. The whole concept of psychological health and safety in the workplace is a fairly new one; an idea that many workplaces have not yet embraced. As an Organizational Development Specialist and Leadership Coach, psychological health and safety is a large part of what I do every day.
happy workers

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Canada has developed a voluntary Standard to help organizations strive towards continuous improvement for psychological health and safety in the workplace. The standard not only works to prevent harm to worker psychological health, it also promotes psychological well-being. Increased organizational effectiveness is a beneficial bi-product of a psychologically safe culture. Workplaces with a positive approach to psychological health and safety are better able to recruit and retain talent, improve employee engagement, increase productivity, enhance creativity and innovation, and boost bottom line results. Hopefully, the Canadian Standard of providing a psychologically safe workplace will soon become a part of organizational culture. My wish is that the death of these four soldiers sparks a move to remove the stigma about mental health and improve the culture not only in the military, but in organizations all over the world. For more information on psychological health and safety in the workplace, contact Susanne.