Which Way Do You Respond to Conflict?

5 Conflict responsesThere is good news about conflict What?  Yes!  It can bring understanding about yourself, the situation, and the root cause. Conflict can even bring people closer together with a stronger confidence in building trust, respect and support with each other.

It is common to say, “Conflict is inevitable!”… Duh.  I say that a lot myself. That truth alone does not help with managing it, but it is a start.  It is normal and healthy to have conflict. What we do with the conflict is very important for health within ourselves and in our relationships with others.

Most people I meet have not been taught what I am about to share with you.  I hope it becomes clear in the next few paragraphs, (with the help of the handy diagram I created) that you have five distinct ways to respond to conflict. The model is based on the good work of Thomas-Kilman and their Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI). They identified five main styles of dealing with conflict that vary in their degrees of cooperativeness and assertiveness. Their presupposition is that people typically have a preferred conflict resolution style.

Before we go further I want to make an important point that each of the five conflict responses are useful in different situations. Not one of them is bad, or wrong in itself. When and how often you use it is important.

The following definitions from the TKI will help you see the style.  I have renamed them in my diagram as a fresh look at the well-worn terms used to talk about it.  No matter what the label is, see if you can find the one that you most use. Once you know your tendencies, you can begin to explore what others use in your interactions with them. This information is vital to developing a conflict management strategy in your relationships.  I will be glad to walk you through how to apply this to your situation.  Give me a call.

Avoiding (No Way): People tending towards this style seek to evade the conflict entirely. This style is typified by delegating controversial decisions, accepting default decisions, and not wanting to hurt anyone’s feelings. It can be appropriate when victory is impossible, when the controversy is trivial, or when someone else is in a better position to solve the problem. However in many situations this is a weak and ineffective approach to take.

Competitive (My Way): People who tend towards a competitive style take a firm stand, and know what they want. They usually operate from a position of power, drawn from things like position, rank, expertise, or persuasive ability. This style can be useful when there is an emergency and a decision needs to be made fast; when the decision is unpopular; or when defending against someone who is trying to exploit the situation selfishly. However it can leave people feeling bruised, unsatisfied and resentful when used in less urgent situations.

Accommodating (Your Way): This style indicates a willingness to meet the needs of others at the expense of the person’s own needs. The accommodator often knows when to give in to others, but can be persuaded to surrender a position even when it is not warranted. This person is not assertive but is highly cooperative. Accommodation is appropriate when the issues matter more to the other party, when peace is more valuable than winning, or when you want to be in a position to collect on this “favor” you gave. However people may not return favors, and overall this approach is unlikely to give the best outcomes.

Compromising (Our Way): People who prefer a compromising style try to find a solution that will at least partially satisfy everyone. Everyone is expected to give up something and the compromiser (him or her) also expects to relinquish something. Compromise is useful when the cost of conflict is higher than the cost of losing ground, when equal strength opponents are at a standstill and when there is a deadline looming.

Collaborative (New Way): People tending towards a collaborative style try to meet the needs of all people involved. These people can be highly assertive but unlike the competitor, they cooperate effectively and acknowledge that everyone is important. This style is useful when you need to bring together a variety of viewpoints to get the best solution; when there have been previous conflicts in the group; or when the situation is too important for a simple trade-off.

Once you understand the different styles, you can use them to think about the most appropriate approach (or mixture of approaches) for the situation you’re in. You can also think about your own instinctive approach, and learn how you need to change this if necessary.

Ideally you can adopt an approach that is appropriate for the situation, addresses the problem, respects people’s legitimate interests, and leads to mending damaged relationships.

 

At least 17 Things Parents Need To Know:

Funny GirlsI sat beside my three children at a local coffee shop savoring the moments together. They are becoming very rare that the five of us have some “hang” time. My children are fun and inspiring. I still think I have some things to offer them in their maturing process but now I am more a student of them. Watching them grow is amazing.  My wife, and co-laborer in this parenting process, remains my best friend and partner in our role as parents.Bransons at Frothy Monkey

Most of my Facebook friends are parents, so I posted a request on my wall for sage advice from them on what parents need to know. I learned from them, hopefully you will find a nugget of insight for yourself too! Here is a selection of their comments.

  1. His Grace is new every morning.
  2. How to share their faith with their children.
  3. No child is perfect, but God’s saving grace is! (BF)
  4. Pick your battles! Not everything is worth the energy or time to ‘fight’ over!!
  5. Listen: It gives children, power and trust.
  6. Read to them, read with them, let them read to you.
  7. Kids thrive on acceptance, encouragement, AND correction.
  8. Give them permission to succeed AND permission to fail.
  9. Bike helmets work.
  10. Daddies, love your daughters. If she doesn’t find love and acceptance and affection from you, she will one day soon find it from another man.
  11. It can be cleaned up, it can be replaced, it will heal.
  12. Words can not be taken back and they will be remembered well. Choose them well.
  13. There is no greater kindness than when God lets you watch your children become the adults He intended them to be.
  14. Time together. There is no substitute.
  15. Disciple them to love and follow Jesus. In the end, that’s all that really matters.
  16. How to communicate love in a language your child understands. Time, Touch, Gifts, Words of affirmation, Service.
  17. Having a child is a lifetime commitment. You are in this until death do you part, for better or worse, for richer or poorer. Yes, it sounds like wedding vows, and it should.

 

 

Where Do I Start?

Together-Header-Web-large.pngThere is a lot to sort through in life.  In our youth the responsibilities were less, time seemed to last a long time, feelings like, “bored” might even be possible.  In the later years of life, we find time flying by, each year seems shorter.  Responsibilities may have lessen, boredom may have returned.

Most likely the reader of this blog will be somewhere in-between those stages of life.  You may be caring for young ones or aging adults. Your vocational choices may not be all that you had hoped and are wondering how to make a change. The search for ourselves, what we will do as we become an adult, the assessment of what we have already tried, the quest for satisfaction and meaning in our days may be where you are  right now.

I want to encourage you to not panic or lose hope.  Begin now to step forward with grace and purpose.  What is holding you back?  The past? The unknown future?  Paralysis in the present?

“Where do I start?”,  I was asked recently by a man overwhelmed by his life circumstances.  My answer my seem simple, yet it works.  Start right here, right now with yourself.  You are the only thing that you can control and for most of the people I know that are losing traction, it is self-awareness and self-control that they need first to move forward.

Know yourself, then know others.  I use those steps to help people be free, confident and in charge of where they are and where they are going.  Let’s talk about it sometime.

Toxic

onion in mouthA friend of mine posted on Facebook,

“I ate an onion as a midnight snack and I woke up with my mouth tasting like a foot.”

You may have smiled reading that, you may have thought, “Ugh”, or you may have related to it in some way from your own morning breath experiences.

After reading that post, I did three things in this order. 1. Laughed. 2. Brushed my teeth. 3. Wrote these thoughts out about toxic.

A quick internet search for the word “Toxic” reveals this:

Definition of TOXIC 1: containing or being poisonous material especially when capable of causing death or serious debilitation <toxic waste><a toxic radioactive gas> <an insecticide highly toxic to birds> 2: exhibiting symptoms of infection or toxicosis <the patient became toxic two days later> 3: extremely harsh, malicious, or harmful <toxic sarcasm> 4: relating to or being an asset that has lost so much value that it cannot be sold on the market

Consider that what we put into ourselves affects what comes out of us.  Usually people are aware to avoid ingestion of food and other things that can harm them. If it is known to be toxic, the rationale person will not consume it. What about toxic words or thoughts? We are bombarded by sound-bytes every day that seek to influence what we think and do. Are there words that have been feed to you, that you took in and they became toxic? As they resided in you, did they later come out as foul, toxicifying words to others?

In the “my mouth tastes like a foot” example the onion a few hours earlier had time to work within the body to do what onions do, both good and bad.  Take away a lesson from my friend’s funny, self revealing post. Recognize what is coming out of us and determine is it pleasant or helpful to us and others. If it is sour, distasteful, even toxic then take action to stop it and reflect back on how it may have come to be in you.

Before You Die

Before You DieLet’s imagine that you have chosen the still most common arrangements for your funeral.  Your corpse is lying in an open cask surrounded by flowers, photographs, notes, cards, etc. The line of people who are there to express their comfort to your loved ones or to grieve your loss are each waiting to pass by you.

Ok, I understand that this scene is not one that most want to think about, even dwell on at all.  However, if we are honest with ourselves we will pause to acknowledge that we will have an earthly end.

I won’t leave us here in this place for much longer, but stay with me long enough to think about these questions;

  • What will people say about you when they pass by the coffin?
  • What will their memories of you include?
  • What impact will you have had on them?
  • How did knowing you make a difference in their life?

We could ask more of these type questions, but the idea is established.  When you die what do you want to leave behind? What can you do now before you die to help make the desired answers to these questions mostly happen?

This is an example of Life Transition Coaching.  The questions I ask you to consider are a key part of what helps propel you forward in your thinking and actions.  Will your answers to these questions cause you to live differently?  Will you create different goals, strategies, priorities as you ponder your mortality?

As the song chorus says, “Time keeps on, slipping, slipping away…” What will you choose to do today to leave a lasting, positive, legacy?  Who/what is important enough to you that you will consider your part in their life story?  What do you do in this life that will outlast your time here?

I will stop with the questions and urge you to consider your death, now before you die. You could begin now to make a checklist of things you need to do and what to do.

  • Legal matters (like Wills, Trusts, etc.) could be put in order.
  • Funeral arrangements could be made while you can be a part of the decision. There are some interesting alternative-funeral arrangements available now; check out the options on the internet!
  • Personal relationships could be strengthened with family and friends.

You may want to work with me for a brief time to help you move through setting these goals.  An advantage I have in being a Life Transition Coach is that I don’t have any bias or agenda related to your decisions. I am not trying to sell you a product or service related to death.  I am proposing you have help in designing your process of preparing for tomorrow today.

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Workplace Conflict

Workplace Conflict

Workplace tensionIn their professional lives, an alarming 88% of Americans cite hostility, desk-rage, and workplace incivility as top concerns. This disabling, sometimes crippling, emotions rob the company of profit and productivity. Executives, supervisors, managers and the people who work for them can learn to reduce workplace stress and avoid the conflict and cynicism that drains profits, resources, and relationships. Protection from the hidden costs of workplace tension and hostility can be put in place.

I can help you:

  • Create a blame-resistant, emotionally resilient workforce that handles the daily onslaught of frustration without losing momentum, mood or confidence.
  • Replace bitterness about the past with shared responsibility for the future.
  • Quickly calm agitated colleagues and customers.

Your conflict behavior in the workplace is a result of both personal predispositions and the requirements of the situation in which people find themselves.

My customized approach for your assessment and training is designed to measure this mix of conflict-handling modes with you and help you find the solution to move forward.

Remember conflict is inevitable. It can be helpful.  It can be only temporary.  It should/must be managed!

 

3 Things That Steal Joy From Relationships

Joy StealersThese are not the only joy-stealers, but the three things mentioned below will rob you in the workplace, friendships and family!

Let’s look at what the wisdom book tells us about it…

Joy Stealers:

1. Gossip. Idle talk or rumors about others.

The bible calls one who gossips a talebearer, a busybody and a whisperer. Leviticus 20:16 “You shall not go out as a talebearer among your people.” Proverbs 17:9 “He who repeats a matter separates (best) friends. Proverbs 16: 28 “A whisper separates (chief) friends. Proverbs 20:19 “He who goes out as a talebearer reveals secrets; *therefore do not associate with one who flatters with his lips.

* Take special note of the word therefore. Why is it in the sentence? Because there are gossips in the world today and the work place, we are to stay away from them.
Why avoid gossipers?

Because if they are coming to you revealing secrets about someone else to you don’t you think they will leave you and go tell others your secrets?Of course they will. It’s in their nature to do so. It’s what they live for.

How do you stop a gossip?

It’s very simple. Don’t listen. That is all there is to it. It’s just that simple. Don’t give them an ear to gossip in. Tell them this, “I can’t believe so and so said that, let’s you and I go ask them if that is really what they said.

One more thing about gossip…

Proverbs 26:20, “Where there is no wood the fire goes out, and where there is no talebearer, the strife will cease.”  And where there is no strife, there is peace.  And where there is peace, there is Joy!

2. Selfishness. Loving ones self first or self-seeking.

Proverbs 11:26 talks about withholding something good from someone who needs it. “He that withhold corn, the people will curse him, but blessings will be on the head of him that sells it.” If we sell something to someone who has a need for it is good. What happens if we choose to give it to them? Luke 6:38 “Give and it shall be given to you. A good measure pressed down, shaken together and running over will be poured into your lap. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

Mark 10:37 gives us a look at James and John being selfish, seeking the best place. “They replied, Let one of us sit at Your right and the other at your left in Your glory.”  Jesus proceeds to tell them that to be great you must serve, and to be the greatest you must be a servant of all.

How can you change?

Servant leadership is one of the antidotes to self-seeking behavior.

3. Jealousy. Resentfully suspicious of a rival or a rival’s influence.

Genesis 37:4 – Joseph’s brothers. “And when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him”

I Samuel 18:8 – King Saul. “Saul was very angry; this refrain galled him, ‘They have credited David with tens of thousands,’ he thought, ‘ but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?’ and from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David.”

In summary:

Instead of Gossiping – Edify one another

Instead of Selfishness – Give to one another

Instead of Jealousy – Love one another.

Talking “about” verses “with” Someone

Talking aboutThere is an important difference in sharing information about a person to others and engaging the person directly.  I highlight the contrast by asking, “Why are you telling me/us this story?  Is it to let us know about this person or are you seeking help in your efforts to talk with this person?”

The difference in wanting to talk about a person and seeking ways to talk with a person is very obvious.  So apparent that I almost didn’t think it worth noting in a blog.  However, as I listen to people in my Coaching and Mediation work I hear many stories that fall into the category of being “about” someone. It is not as common to hear someone seeking ways to talk “with” someone.

I understand very well that most of the issues that have brought me and my client together have root causes in lack of communication with someone. So, it is not a surprise that someone will welcome a chance to vent the frustration, hurt, loss and pain from the conflict that exists. What is interesting is the small number of people who are seeking ways to confront the offending person in a healthy way.

Again, I am not new at working with people and relationship problems. I get that people hurt one another through disappointment, let down, ignoring, disrespect, bullying and many other ways.  You can fill in the blank with a way you have been hurt by someone in the past or even very recently. It is ineffable that we will hurt each other. We are human,  not perfect! So, with the eventual hurt as a reality the question is “How do we deal with that hurt when it happens?”

You can pay me to work with you through the details of resolving the conflict, I will be glad to assist. But, here is a free tip to get you started on your own. Work at talking with people. They may have been very offensive, unreasonable, stubborn even mean in your past encounters. You may be so shutdown that you have given up trying to talk directly to them. It may be dangerous for you to try to break down the barrier alone.  I am not suggesting that you put yourself in danger; physically or emotionally. I am recommending that for your own sake you try, (with the help of others when needed), to connect and resolve the impasse. The satisfaction of knowing that you did everything you could to try to work out the issue between you and another person will be a great comfort in your future no matter the conclusion.

I also know it is usually easier to talk about someone than to talk to them. Do the harder thing and speak words that will edify, build up and bless directly.  What the “problem” person will learn from resolving the issue with you may help them avoid creating the same scenarios with others later on.

I would love to hear ways that you have turned the “about” to “with” in your own experiences.

Tow Truck Driver…for people

Helping people get moving again!

Helping people get moving again!

 

“Dad, what do I tell people you do at work?”, my son asked me recently.

Instead of rambling over the various “people helps” types of services I do, I said, “Tell them I am a Tow Truck driver”.  I kept a serious look on my face for just a few seconds.  Just long enough for his face to begin to crinkle and frown as he stared back at me.

“I am a Tow Truck Driver…for people! If someone is stuck or broken down and they need help to get moving again, then I help them.”  He laughed and agreed that it was a very good way to explain what I do.

Share this link with someone you know that would “like a tow” right now. http://keithbranson.com/services/i-am-a-tow-truck-driver-for-people/

Keith Talks

Keith speakingTo arrange for Keith to speak, coach, or train call 615-596-4474 or email keith@keithbranson.com. The topics, listed alphabetically, below can be adjusted to your needs.  Other topics can be presented as well.

Speaking Topics:

1.Abortion and Men – A highly charged topic with surprising outcomes! Learn what Abortion does to men and what they can do about it.  Discussion can be tailored for all ages.

2. Age to Age – Life’s transitions are easier when we know three things; who we are, what we need, and how we can finish well. Understanding the truth about yourself and how to be satisfied through every season of life, is possible!

3. Conflict – We all have it in our lives at some level. Learn how to manage tensions, prevent abuse and create satisfying solutions. There are four key stages that I guarantee will lead to long-lasting, satisfying relationships.

4. Death and Dying – Preparing for departure from our earthly bodies is not as hard as people imagine. Know the basic things that legally must be done at death and options you have before and after death. Alternative funeral ideas are included in this presentation.

5. Leading from back stage – Leadership models, principles and “how-tos” abound. Most have you in charge, leading from the front and center. Strength, guidance, vision and direction can be instilled in a team, a family and other groups without having your face or name on the headline and your place in the front of everyone.

6. Marriage and Family – What else could possibly be taught on this topic with so many resources already available? Divorces are still occurring, blended families are now the majority of households, same-sex relationships in marriage and parenting are legal. A fresh, relevant talk on today’s tough issues.

7. Men – The world needs godly men; men who will step up and courageously lead and serve at home, at church, at work and in their communities. Learn what holds men back, how to bring them forward and empower them to fulfill their role and mission.