Posts tagged with ‘conflict’

17 mar

The Power of No

mike_robbinsHow do you feel about saying “no?” I notice that saying “no” to certain people and in some situations can be challenging for me. Sometimes I find myself saying “yes” when “no” would really be more authentic. More covertly, I also find myself at times giving “half-truths” (which is quite an oxymoron if you think about it) to people when they present me with opportunities, engage with me about connecting, etc. You know what I mean, you run into someone and say, “We should really get together sometime,” but you really have very little interest in or commitment to making that happen. Does this ever happen to you?

What is it about saying “no” that many of us have a hard time with? For me, it comes down to a few specific things. First of all, I get scared that people will get upset or disappointed if I say “no.” Second, I’m not a huge fan of hearing “no” from others myself, so being the one saying it can be difficult for me. And lastly, I consider myself to be “yes” type of person. I pride myself on being open, willing, and ready to say “yes” at all times. In other words, “no” often seems like a failure, an admission of weakness, or just an overall negative thing to say.

However, saying “no” is one of the most important aspects of living a life filled with balance, integrity, and authenticity. Our ability and capacity to say “no” with confidence is one of the most important aspects of creating peace and power in our lives. This is about creating healthy boundaries, honoring ourselves, and being real – it’s not about being closed, cynical, or unwilling.

The majority of people I know, especially these days, live their lives with a feeling of “overwhelm” that either runs them or at least gets in their way from time to time. If you think of the aspects of your life where you feel most overwhelmed, stressed out, or ineffective – there is probably a theme going on – you haven’t said “no” when you needed to. If you also think about any relationships in your life where these is stress, struggle, or conflict – you saying “no” with honesty and kindness is also probably missing.

When we don’t say “no” in an authentic way we end up feeling burdened, resentful, and even victimized (although, ironically, we forget that we are the ones who said “yes” in the first place).

Saying “no” does have real consequences. Sometimes we will upset, disappoint, or annoy people. We also may have a significant amount of fear about saying “no” to certain people (our spouse, boss, co-worker, friend, child, etc.) or in certain situations (at work, with clients, with our in-laws, and more).

However, there are huge benefits to us enhancing our capacity and comfort with “no.” Tapping into the power of “no” creates freedom, liberation, and a real sense of trust with the people in our lives. When we’re someone that says “yes” when we mean it and “no” when we mean it – others know they can count on us to be real, tell the truth, and come through.

And, when we “no” with confidence, honesty, and compassion, we do one of the best things we can possibly do to honor and appreciate ourselves.

Mike Robbins is a sought-after motivational keynote speaker, coach, and the bestselling author of Focus on the Good Stuff (Wiley) and Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken (Wiley). More info –

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Posted by Mike Robbins on March 17th, 2010 in New Directions, Relationships, Spirituality | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , , , , ,

21 jan

The Triangle of Truth

mike_robbinsI have a love-hate relationship to conflict. I love it when things “work out,” but hate it when they don’t. My fear of things not working out, of people’s feelings getting hurt, or of me losing something important are usually high on my list of justifications for not saying certain things, not engaging in the conflict at all, or selling out on my deepest truth even in the midst of it.

However, as I look deeper at what my definition of “working out” really is, I realize that it’s often some version of things going my way or some compromise that leaves me feeling like I’m the “good guy” and that the person or people involved still like, appreciate, or approve of me.

Can you relate to this? You may have a different version of this story, but most people I know and work with have a disempowered relationship to conflict and have come up with creative ways of avoiding it, not dealing with it, or manipulating themselves, others, or situations so as to not have to engage in conflict in a vulnerable way at all. However, as we’ve all noticed – this doesn’t work or give us much power in our relationships or our lives, especially when it comes to conflict.

Recently, I had the opportunity to interview my good friend Lisa Earle McLeod on my radio show about her latest book called The Triangle of Truth. Lisa, a speaker, consultant, and expert in conflict resolution, teaches through her new book and in her trainings that in every conflict there are really three sides to it (like a triangle) – my truth, your truth, and then the higher-level solution. It’s not about “compromise” or “right vs. wrong” in most cases – it’s about being willing to engage in conflict in such a way that we allow something bigger, better, and more inclusive to emerge.

As the famous quote from Albert Einstein reminds us, “We can’t solve the problems of today with the level of thinking that created them.”

In talking to Lisa about her book and the Triangle of Truth model that she teaches, I realized that my own fear of upsetting people or having them not like me, as well as my erroneous attachment to being “right” not only create more stress and separation in my relationships, they get in my way of engaging in healthy conflict, which thus robs me and those around me from coming up with higher level, more creative and inclusive solutions – which ultimately benefit all of us.

Here are the six principles Lisa teaches and how we can all use them to embrace conflict, resolve it easier, and come up with solutions that can serve everyone involved in the best way:

1) Embrace AND – So often we get caught in “either/or” thinking which makes us and those around us crazy, is quite sophomoric and limiting by its nature, and doesn’t allow us to see or hear anything else than what we already “know” to be “true.”

2) Make Peace with Ambiguity – Based on our own fear and because so many of us, myself included, like to be in control – we often resist uncertainty. However, being comfortable with uncertainty and allowing ourselves to hang out in ambiguity gives us the openness, patience, and perspective necessary to allow creative solutions to emerge.

3) Hold Space for Other Perspectives – When we’re able to listen to, understand, and appreciate where someone else is coming from (even and especially if we don’t agree with them) we allow the space for something new to arise. It takes practice and trust to allow other people to share their thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and perspectives with passion – and for us to just let them be. However, when we allow other people the space to share openly, they often gives us that space in return and we can then find out we’re not always “on the other side” in the way we think we are.

4) Seek Higher Ground – Because we often avoid conflict or even when we get into it try to get out of it as fast as possible, we sometimes rush to come up with “solutions” or “compromises” just to stop the conflict. This compromising process often “works” on the surface, but doesn’t address the deeper issues and won’t give way to the higher level solutions. It’s only when we’re open to and actively look for those higher level solutions that they begin to materialize. This happens when we seek higher ground, instead of simply trying to “win” the argument or end it at all costs because we’re uncomfortable or scared.

5) Discern Intent – With issues that mean the most to us or cut right the core of our most sacredly beliefs, we often have a hard time considering anything else than what we already believe to be true. In this process, we often vilify those who don’t agree with us. “Those people” – the ones who think differently than we do -become “them,” in a negative way. When we look for and find the positive intention of others, even if we don’t see things the way they do, we can get to the core of what’s really true, not just what our ego wants to argue about.

6) Elevate Others – This is all about raising the conversation in our heads, with the other people involved, and about the whole situation. We can and do have impact on other people. We’re able to elevate the conversation with others when we focus on being real and vulnerable (i.e. honest about how we really feel) and also focus on appreciating and empowering those we’re engaged with (i.e. acknowledging them and being grateful for who they are). We can lift up the people around us and in the process lift ourselves up and create the higher level solutions we all truly want.

Resolving conflicts in an open, conscious, and positive way is a lot easier said than done. And, when we remember these simple (but not always easy) principles, as well as the metaphor of the triangle (our truth, their truth, and the higher truth/solutions), we’re able to engage in conflict in a way that not only brings forth better and more inclusive solutions, but can actually create the kind of peace, growth, and harmony we really crave in our lives, relationships, families, communities, and workplaces!

Mike Robbins is a sought-after motivational keynote speaker, coach, and the bestselling author of Focus on the Good Stuff (Wiley) and Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken (Wiley). More info –

Posted by Mike Robbins on January 21st, 2010 in Family, General, Relationships | 1 comment Read related posts in , , , , , , , , , ,