I love coaching and giving workshops, talks and trainings on resolving conflicts effectively to a room full of doubters who at the end want me to follow them home to deal with all the conflict starters in their lives. But there’s always been this nagging question, which has plagued me for years. If these techniques work so well, why aren’t we really using them when we get into conflicts? Come on… confession time. How much are you really using these skills?

So what if for decades I’ve taught skills to everyone from bus drivers to principals, from adolescents to parents from entrepreneurs to supervisors from Harlem to Hong Kong, from rural to suburbia and from my living room to my son’s room, only to hear everyone voice the same complaint. “It’s great when you are in the workshop or we are in a coaching session, but when I am in the middle of a heated conflict, I forget about all of this and just do what I normally do.” Yell, curse, hit, retreat, interrupt, get the last word or as one honest fourth grader said so beautifully, “what happens if you are in a conflict and you just lose your mind?”

In the past, even I have admitted that when faced with conflict, Ms. Conflict Resolution Expert has had to use a visualization technique in order to remind myself to use what I know, rather than do what I feel. I imagine myself embroiled in a loud, vicious argument that spills over into a shoving match in front of a fascinated and vocal NYC subway crowd and then a picture of The Daily News headline complete with photo flashes through my mind.

“Top Conflict Resolution Expert Wins (hey everyone wants to win) Subway WrestleMania Battle in Three Rounds.”

So, what’s the problem? That’s what escaped me until I started my own journey of self-improvement from the inside out. Hours spent in stillness and quiet reflection, actually feeling my feelings and learning to release them, analyzing and challenging my mindset about my life. That is when I finally experienced the answer. Why aren’t we using these techniques in real life conflicts? Because in our minds, it’s always been about what other people do in conflicts, but the truth is… it’s about YOU.

Each of us getting a good view of what’s inside of ourselves when it comes to conflict. Yes, I have said this before, but clearly we need an annual reminder. Look around, we are getting deeper in conflict and if we are going to dig our way out, it has got to start within.

It’s a Soul search and we need it badly. When too many solutions to conflict are the humiliation, degradation, cursing out, yelling at and cutting off of one another, then our souls are in need of a sacred search for who we really are as human beings.

It’s time to realize that the power to change outcomes lies with YOU. For me, it has been such a change for the better that the desire to grow in using my conflict resolution inner and outer skills has compelled me to dig deeper every time conflicts arise. It’s not easy and it’s not quick, but it is life changing!

I have to explore every inch of me to get better and better at this… Soul what are you going to do? The time is now.

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