Common Sense Services

Practice makes progress

These are origami cranes that I made yesterday. I need more practice, they are a bit dumpy and lack finesse and polish, but they are origami cranes.

The reason I share them with you, apart from an absurd delight in my new semi-skill, is that the making of the cranes put me in mind of conversations with people I have worked with in my coaching sessions and skills workshops.

I have a strong sense of my own (lack of) practical skills and capabilities – I have the spatial awareness of a stunned whelk and the dexterity and precision of a club hammer - since you ask. This self "knowledge" informs my expectations in many areas of life. So much so that, as I sat down to fold my first crane, I was already tense, anxious and expecting it to go wrong.

Many people that I work with have similar expectations of their own abilities to deal with conflict or to manage challenging conversations. As soon as they realise that such a situation is on the cards, tension and anxiety kick in, their inner 'threat mechanism' goes on high alert and they are just waiting for the thing to blow up in their faces.

What I found when I folded my cranes was that the paper yielded to the folds. If I applied the steps in the instructions, no matter if I believed in myself or not, if I applied the steps, the paper   became more and more crane like.

And so it is with managing conflict. If we know the steps to take and we follow them, whether we believe in ourselves or not, if we follow the steps, the conflict will begin to yield.

And this is what people tell me in follow up conversations. "I used the Speaking in Conflict format, and he actually listened to me." "I could feel myself getting triggered so I used the ISAC tool and chose a response not a reaction." "I just listened and she said she felt better and that we didn't need to do anything else."

Like my cranes, the conflict won't yield into perfect folds first time, every time. But, the more practised we become with the techniques, the more accomplished we will become.

I won't be showing you the steps to take to make an origami crane, but if it would help then I can show you the steps to take to manage conflicts more effectively.