Conflict and Manipulation

May 25, 2016

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Thanks for your feedback on my April blog Conflict & Intention - are you a right fighter?. One person shared: "This came at the perfect timing...sometimes people tell me that I would rather be right than happy! "

It takes courage to admit that!  It also takes courage to understand what we own in the conflict. 


this illustration depicts a chef stirring a stockpot.

I am reminded of two people who seemed to love conflict so much that they would stir it up. One person lived in our previous neighborhood- she was always having issues with other folks. Watching her stir the pot, I always thought it was because she was smart and bored - not challenged enough and not leveraging her talents. I may have been wrong, as I never did ask why she liked to stir the pot (probably for fear of creating conflict that I didn't want to resolve!) 

The other person was an HR manager I worked with many years ago who thrived on creating swirl. It was frustrating to watch her create conflict so that she could show up, solve the issue and save the day. A form of job preservation I had not seen before! And certainly a form of manipulation.

"What causes fights and quarrels among you?  

Don't they come from your desires that battle within?" 

James 4:1

Manipulators are those people who attempt to influence the behavior or emotions of others for their own agenda.  They have their own best interests in mind.  Manipulators often create conflict, especially when there are not healthy boundaries in place, which is why we need to be clear on what we stand for. 

Even when Manipulators are stirring the pot, it isimportant to remember that conflict often starts with us...wanting what we don't have, or not wanting what we do have, or not willing to ask for what we want, or repeating a conflict we did not resolve.

I could check all of the above at times in my life and I am not proud of that, but I am learning. Learning to figure out what is driving the conflict. Learning to look in the mirror first. Learning to be responsible and clearer on my requests.  Learning to set better boundaries. Owning if and when I want to confront a conflict. And not reverting to manipulation. That is why I like the verse from James above. It brings me back to checking my motives.  

As leaders, our job is to get relationships big enough to handle the work that needs to get done. To get conflicts resolved effectively and be in a position to ask for what is needed to deliver the business. Productive Relationships™ is a course designed specifically for this purpose. For managers and employees who need to strengthen relationships, resolve conflict efficiently and move forward.  Interested?  Contact us.

Kate Johnson
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