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Rising Strong in Conflict

An amazing colleague of ours, Jenn Lofgren presented a full day workshop last week focused on Brene Brown’s latest work – Rising Strong.  Although the focus of the workshop was on Rising Strong from your own setbacks I found it to be very applicable to my work in conflict.

When people are in conflict they become wrapped up in their stories.  Brene indicates that stories help us make sense of our situation and enables us to create certainly in unknown situations.  Tying back to neuroscience and our fight/flight/freeze mechanism – they make us feel safe.  The problem is we often do not have all the facts regarding the stories or our perception is skewed from assumptions we may be making.  Our brains fill in the spaces we may not have concrete facts for by creating a story that may or may not be accurate.  We get caught up in our version of the conflict.  My colleague deliberately undermined me in our meeting with the boss when he said we were late on the project.

Brene’s process looks at three steps to undertake for your conflict story:

  • The Reckoning: walking into our story
  • The Rumble: owning our story
  • The Revolution: writing a new ending and changing how we engage with the world

When walking into our story we need to explore how we are feeling, thinking and acting.  How does that knot in your stomach relate to the loop constantly playing in your mind.  Why is my colleague out to get me?  Can we define our emotions as anger, disappointment, embarrassment, guilt or shame?  Are our thoughts focused on the other person– he never liked me from the beginning.  What behaviours are dominant for us in these situations – Retreat?  Attack?  By focusing on and explore these three areas of feeling, thinking and doing we can create change.

We need to capture the story we are telling ourselves and write it down.  Brene refers to this as the sh**ty first draft or SFD.  Once we have it down, we can move on to revisions.

In writing a new ending we need to explore our SFD by getting curious and asking ourselves questions;

  • What needs to happen for us to become curious?
  • What more do I need to learn and understand about my conflict situation?
  • What can I learn and understand about the people in my conflict story?  What assumptions might I be making?
  • What’s underneath my response?  What part did I play in the conflict?
  • How do vulnerability, shame and guilt impact my conflict story?
  • What role does trust, self-trust, grief and forgiveness play in my conflict story?

Now write your new conflict story.  My colleague was trying to be proactive by letting the boss know we were behind in the project. Now that the problem is on the table we can look at solutions to getting back on track. Are you able to shift from the victim to the author of your story?

Check out more of Jenn Lofgren’s work here.  This was a course well worth it and hopefully she will offer another soon.

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