What has a mouse to do with conflict management?!

Uncategorized May 16, 2019

Tips: Practical Conflict Management & mental support

What has a little mouse 🐭 on a coffee cup ☕️to do with conflict management

I once had a long awaited mitigation meeting. The objective was determining if there was will, wish and ability to solve a conflict that had escalated to a stage where the next step could be full disrupture and perhaps even worse.

Preparations part I

I had expected this to be a rough one, so I spent a lot of time in advance trying to understand each parties' perspectives, interests and concerns. For this I used one of my frameworks, put down some thoughts of desired best possible outcomes, considered moods to be expected and how to approach it all depending on the moods in the room. All well for the preparations...

Then, just before the meeting, I needed to prepare my own mindset: I needed to be 100% grounded, in control, with any upcoming feelings tamed, so I could focus on reaching some positive result by the end of the meeting.

So, what did I do? And this is something you may find useful too!

Preparations part II - the mental side

While waiting for the meeting to begin, I made use of some art therapeutic techniques to set myself in the right mental condition:

Starting with a few deep breaths, holding a little when breathing in before breathing out sligthly longer. This helps our sympathetic nervous system calm down so we can avoid flight-fight responses

I then imagined positioning a few mental helpers around me: In my backbone I placed Athena, the figure representing my bravery, courage and persistence and dignity

On my right side, I placed two specific men. These are the thoughts and strength I've internalised from the 2 real life men who have shown me their faith in me, who believe in me, stand by me, and are confident that I have what it takes to do the right thing

On my left I could have placed a more maternal figure, a GoodMother who holds, nourrishes and protects. In this case I didn't need to have her close. However, after working with this for several years, I know it's easy for me to recall that inner protection when I need it

Finally I had to take care of that little part in me that at times can become terrified, hide, or worse - freeze into stupor. That part is the little mouse🐭! I didn't anticipate the mouse would be triggered but took no chance, so I simply mentally put the mouse in my bag, told her it was safe there, and that I would be taking her out of there after the meeting.

The meeting was sligthly rough. My mental state throughout was focused and alert, while I was in control and actively engaged in what I believe were constructive interchanges. (I wouldn't go so far as to call those interchanges dialogues, but that would be for another post)

After the meeting, a short debrief with my partner, before thanking my imagined helpers, persistent Athena, the two trusting men, dependable GoodMother :-).

Then came the time to take the imagined mouse out of the bag. She felt a little shaken but otherwise fine. I then went to a toy store and bought this liitle mouse now sitting with me as I enjoy a cup of coffee.

A little frightened mouse 🐭, but she usually lives in the mane of a brave big hearted lion. I know she's much more than a frightened little mouse! It's time to get to know her better!

What about you, could there be any figures inside of you who could support you or need your support?

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