Reflective Practice Image

#101 Maximize Your Learning with Reflective Practice

The tendency in conflict is to find fault with others, or in circumstance. This leads to concluding that others need to change in order for relationships to improve. Although we can certainly influence others, we can’t make others behave differently. Ultimately, we have greater control over ourselves than others.

Reflective Practice Image

With this idea in mind, that you have greater control over yourself than anyone else, let’s take a look at two types of reflective practice that will support you in learning to be more effective in conflict.

Review your own behaviour systematically

When you have a conflict, treat it like a learning project. After an interaction, spend 10 minutes reviewing what happened and making some notes. Here is a simple set of questions you can use:

  • What were two challenging aspects of the interaction?
  • What did I do consciously that seemed to be helpful?
  • What did I either do or omit doing that contributed to the challenges?
  • What do I want to be better at and do differently next time?

Seek feedback from others

We are always blind to some of the ways that we impact others in conflict. It’s not possible to know in an even remotely comprehensive manner the effects we are having on others without hearing from them. Feedback from others is critical, but getting that feedback is challenging.

Firstly, people we are senior to in any way whatsoever will probably hold back, and they will hold back more if there is any indication of a defensive reaction from us. One way to encourage openness is to thank people publicly for their negative feedback, whether at a team meeting or the dinner table at home. In the end though, it is probably safe to assume that you are not hearing everything others are thinking about your less-than-positive attributes.

Secondly, our adversaries often have valuable information for us. When large portions of what they say about you can be attributed to their lack of knowledge or personal characteristics – even then – there are often morsels of truth in their utterances. Do attend to their communication and pick out what is there for you to learn about yourself.

In summary, rather than trying to change others, it makes sense to focus on how to show up differently. First, systematically review your conflict experiences with some standard questions. Second, seek input from others including those with whom you have the most challenging interactions.

Consider keeping a journal to note down what you learn from your reflective practice. It will help you stay focused on how you would like to improve. Over time, it can become a record of your learning journey.

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