Wk 2: Chapters 2 and 3-Conflict Management Coaching: The CINERGY Model

Thank you for your comments and questions regarding the Introduction and Chapter One. It was great to hear from you!

This week we are moving ahead to discuss Chapters Two and Three. Here are some questions and of course, other related questions and comments are always welcome.

Chapter Two:

As you will have read in this chapter, the (Not So) Merry Go Round of Conflict provides a conflict analysis about the trajectory that occurs when we are provoked by another person. By considering the elements sequentially as they are depicted in this construct, it helps people to gain some distance from their conflicts and observe themselves more objectively. It also helps them to stand in the shoes of the other person.

On the basis that you walked yourself through the cycle in the (Not So) Merry Go Round, what are your reflections on this analysis? 

What other elements may add? 

What other analyses have you found useful?

What other comments or questions do you have about this chapter?

Chapter 3:

This chapter considers the types of questions that commonly arise in the inquiry stage and other conversation points that come up in the intake - once coaching is going ahead.

What other questions may people ask - for which you also wish an answer?

What other comments or questions do you have about this chapter?

Looking forward to this week's discussion.

Cinnie and Tammy

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Replies to This Discussion

I think the analysis is very accurate of interpersonal conflicts and I imagine the right side as an undefined (maybe infinite) number of cycles until the boundary is finally (or quickly breached) and then the circle becomes bigger as the external dispute involves more people. While on the right side of the model, I also imagine it as a tightly spinning top because those who see the top don't necessarily know when it will fall, but it will eventually fall and there may be some external indications that it's going to fall even before it does. When it topples, the top keeps moving, even kind of spinning, but it becomes messy and can knock over other things around it as it is even less predictable after it falls from its point. The top analogy also works for me as I see someone in internal conflict as expending much energy while they are "mulling" the provocation(s) over in their heads and discussing it with other people. When it falls, or goes external, it may eventually get to rest if the consequences are satisfactory. But as implied by the (not so) merry-go-round, another precipitating reaction will set the top spinning again, this time the trigger is reached even faster and the top has more energy.

I think that interpersonal conflict is usually best handled when it goes to the external side sooner, rather than later but it's also hard to deal with people who have seemingly abnormally low boundaries and they "go external" quickly and rashly. How do we advise people to attempt to stay on the internal side until they can smartly & safely take it external? I think if I were coaching someone like this I would use questioning to put them in the other's shoes. I also think it's OK to take a couple spins on the internal side to ensure what you thought triggered you actually is a trigger and that it occurs again and actually becomes a problem as opposed to a one-time occurrence or maybe you're having a bad day and "able to let go of (the) our initial response." Some conflicts might not have to go external.

Another question that I could see potential clients asking is, "What if coaching doesn't work?" I think this question is similar to "What if I can't do this?" but is reframed to "blame" the coach or process for the lack of success. This could be addressed by making sure a measure of success is defined and an anticipated outcome as is listed on page 96 for discussion with the client, coach and referring person.

Cinnie, I think your suggested questions to further the client-coach relationship on page 106 are a smart thing to consider because like the "shoulds" we each have for dealing with conflict, there are also "shoulds" that individuals have developed over time that pertain to how someone shows them support, cooperation and respect. Most of us have probably been taught numerous times about the body language of listening and support but for a prolonged formal relationship where it imperative that there is no confusion, why not ask those questions up front to make sure the client is most comfortable and confident that you're receiving them? It would be unfortunate for a client to have interpersonal issues with their coach and then discover it was a series of misunderstandings!!....Yikes.

Thank you Celia for this thoughtful response. You make great points on both topics.

Chapter 2:

I am not fully in agreement that going to the external side sooner than later is the optimum outcome. It seems to me that helping clients consider what is going on for them internally (right side of the merry go round) may help prevent unnecessary conflict and/or to be proactive about engaging in discussions with the other person about what is brewing for them. This is about clients seeking coaching when things are going on internally and they want to gain some awareness and skills to understand and manage what is happening for them. As discussed in a previous discussion, it has taken a number of years in my experience, for clients to access the service before matters have been externalized. However, I have seen an increase of people who want to gain increased conflict competence and be proactive about the conflict dynamic.

Chapter 3:

Your suggested question for the intake and inquiry steps of coaching is a good one (What if I can't do this?). It raises for me too, the possibility that the client is concerned about the process  - may feel vulnerable, scared, insecure, etc. These types of conversations in the initial getting to know each other stage help to build rapport and assuage the fears clients may have. I agree  that clarifying the goals and how the client will measure success are important parts of this dialogue.

Thanks again for weighing in on this discussion Celia.

Chine

Hi Cinnie,

Thanks for your reply.  I agree with you that it is optimum for clients to explore what is going on internally prior to going to the external side of the merry-go-round.  When I said sooner rather than later, I was thinking about they type of situation where someone is sitting there with this problem festering.  I think the hope is, that through coaching, individuals like this would be able to address a problem sooner as they've learned how to handle conflicts more effectively.  Have you seen a lot of cases where a client has had such bad consequences from the way they've reacted externally that they get referred (or seek out help on their own) to you?  Is that a typical client situation?  What do you think is causing the increase in proactive clients?....I guess knowing the complete answer to this would be the golden key, but you must have some theories.  Thank you!   
 
Cinnie Noble said:

Thank you Celia for this thoughtful response. You make great points on both topics.

Chapter 2:

I am not fully in agreement that going to the external side sooner than later is the optimum outcome. It seems to me that helping clients consider what is going on for them internally (right side of the merry go round) may help prevent unnecessary conflict and/or to be proactive about engaging in discussions with the other person about what is brewing for them. This is about clients seeking coaching when things are going on internally and they want to gain some awareness and skills to understand and manage what is happening for them. As discussed in a previous discussion, it has taken a number of years in my experience, for clients to access the service before matters have been externalized. However, I have seen an increase of people who want to gain increased conflict competence and be proactive about the conflict dynamic.

Chapter 3:

Your suggested question for the intake and inquiry steps of coaching is a good one (What if I can't do this?). It raises for me too, the possibility that the client is concerned about the process  - may feel vulnerable, scared, insecure, etc. These types of conversations in the initial getting to know each other stage help to build rapport and assuage the fears clients may have. I agree  that clarifying the goals and how the client will measure success are important parts of this dialogue.

Thanks again for weighing in on this discussion Celia.

Chine

Hello Celia:

My experience with clients coming to me for coaching are much the same as the four ways Tammy describes.

 

In a number of organizations and in other contexts too,  clients also choose coaching over mediation when they are given the choice. They may ultimately end up participating in mediation but as mentioned previously, some people would rather gain the skills and abilities to manage their conflicts themselves - independently. And yes, on a regular basis, I have people referred to me for conflict conduct that is getting them into trouble in their workplace.  

 

The growth of 'proactive' clients  as I have experienced it to date, seems to come in part from the growth of executive coaching as an acceptable forum for helping people to optimize their potential - in whatever areas the person or the organization identifies as requiring improvement. So, in addition to clients being referred,  I am finding  that a coach-approach is attracting people to engage in self- improvement that is either self= motivated or part of initiatives to build coaching cultures within the workplace. This is a relatively new phenomenon but is growing, and with more education about what conflict management coaching is and how it fits within the coaching and ADR fields, I am optimistic we will see a growth in its use and applications.

 

By the way, I keep referring to conflict management coaching within organizations. While most of my work comes from workplaces, I and others commonly provide this type of coaching in a range of contexts.

 

I hope this answers your question Celia.

Hi Cinnie,

I enjoyed Chapter 2 and the great job you did in explaining the underlying concepts behind the CINERGY model.

Chapter 3 was more challenging for me -- I think because I'm less familiar and less comfortable with the Inquiry and Intake stages; and the confidentiality issues. I understand in theory what you've explained about Inquiry and Intake, but am unsure how that usually works with clients -- Are people often skeptical, reluctant, resistant, etc?  Or are they more often pretty ready to go forward and more trusting of the coach and process? 

Also, with respect to the confidentiality -- I thought that the process was entirely confidential.  But it sounds like there may be situations in which there is a duty to report back to the sponsor/employer -- Is that right?  What do you think is the typical practice with respect to a coach keeping or destroying notes?   I'm a little concerned about confidentiality issues (since unlike attorney/client, there is no coach/client privilege),     

Hi Patty. Such great questions coming from you and the other members. Thank you all!

 

Please let me know if the following answers sufficiently respond to your questions.

Intake stage:

This step  is an opportunity to begin to build rapport and trust  -two requisite ingredients of a solid coach-client alliance. I typically spend up to an hour  getting to know clients before beginning the process itself -  ensuring they understand how the process works, their role, the coach's role and limits to confidentiality. During these initial conversations, I may need to allay any apprehensions the client has about these or other areas.

In advance of the Intake meeting I forward the Conflict Management Coaching Relationship document (page 86)  - if I haven't already done so  - when the client makes inquiries,  I also send out the Agreement (pages 91-93) and the form called Preparing for Your First Coaching Sesssion (104-105). When I meet with the client for the first time- after spending some time in general converstaion and explaining the above matters- we discuss the content of these forms. This ultimately leads to what the client is hoping to achieve with my assistance.

Among other things such as what I have just described, intake conversations  serve the purpose of ensuring  clients are in the right place for what they are hoping to accomplish.

 

Confidentialty:

 

As you saw in clause 4  of the Conflict Management Coaching Agreement  the confidentialty terms are similar to those contained in a mediation Agreement. You are right the conversations are not privileged or  protected other than to the extent they can be by mutual consent in contract forrm.

 

I am not sure where you got the impression that there is a duty to report back to the sponsor. I do not have private conversations with the sponsors/ referring sources  nor do I provide a written report of the client's progress etc. When a sponsor refers a client,  I often meet with him/her and the client together before coaching begins to confirm the goals and how they will be measured. I also ensure the confidentialty terms are clear. If the sponsor says s/he wants a report on progress, then I say that the client and I will meet with him or her to do so. Sometimes that meeting is halfway through the period of time for which I am hired and/or at the end of coaching. In any case, the meeting includes the client.

 

Re: note taking:

 

I don't think there's a 'typical' practice with respect to note-taking and policies/requirements vary depending if the coach is internal or external to the organization and if the workplace is subject to statutes regarding access to information. Some coaches take and keep notes, some destroy them after coaching, some give the notes ot clients and so on. 

 

 

Tammy may have additional information to provide in response to what you have asked Patty.


 
Patty Stiles said:

 Are people often skeptical, reluctant, resistant, etc?  Or are they more often pretty ready to go forward and more trusting of the coach and process? 

Also, with respect to the confidentiality -- I thought that the process was entirely confidential.  But it sounds like there may be situations in which there is a duty to report back to the sponsor/employer -- Is that right?  What do you think is the typical practice with respect to a coach keeping or destroying notes?   I'm a little concerned about confidentiality issues (since unlike attorney/client, there is no coach/client privilege),     

First Cinnie, I must say that I really like how you draw on so many resources in your explanations, descriptions and analyses. Reading your book, at almost every juncture I think of some other work that was done in an area, you allude to it (“name, blame, claim”, “cognitive biases”, “the Beyond Reason core concerns”, etc.) and draw a very full and thorough picture. It makes for a very rounded reading experience and is very satisfying. Thanks!

 

Chapter 2

On the basis that you walked yourself through the cycle in the (Not So) Merry Go Round, what are your reflections on this analysis? What other elements may add? What other analyses have you found useful? What other comments or questions do you have about this chapter?

I appreciate the image of the conflict rule book that people have and understanding that those rule books can be adjusted and changed. It is a simple, but powerful way of looking at how we deal with situations.

As regards to the precipitating interaction I appreciate how you point out that revisiting things over and over in our head – or talking to others about it – brings with it the risk of entrenching us. It’s something I personally struggle with, so it’s good to have this warning put out there very clearly. It is such a fine balance between the cathartic effect of venting and being able to move on and getting more caught up in the past...

In the section about the boundary you seem to refer to what I learned of as the “name, blame, claim” framework (from Felstiner, Abel and Sarat’s 1980 article “The Emergence and Transformation of Disputes: Naming, Blaming, Claiming...”). Obviously, the go-round of conflict is more complete in terms of the detail and the timeframe considered. This detail comes at the cost of complexity. I am glad to learn about other ways to analyze conflict/disputes – the more tools we have, the better we’re equipped!

Another approach I am familiar with is the CCC “Comprehensive Conflict Coaching” Model by Jones and Brinkert (he’s one of the other professionals I was able to interview!), which draws more heavily on the narrative approach to conflict management. There seems to be a difference in that in the CCC model explicitly addresses questions of power and that the coaches pro-actively seem to try to empower/train their clients with communication and negotiation skills.

Chapter 3

This chapter considers the types of questions that commonly arise in the inquiry stage and other conversation points that come up in the intake - once coaching is going ahead. What other questions may people ask - for which you also wish an answer? What other comments or questions do you have about this chapter?

 

In the section about how coaching works you mention “conducting a short coaching session” to “demonstrate how coaching works” (pg. 85). Working in a very different (software) field, I’m curious how such a demonstration session works. Are there any demonstrations – or even transcripts (a la “Purple House”) that you could share?

 

In regards to the client and the coach being mutually suited for each other and for coaching I wonder if you are ever concerned to a point that you bring this up during the initial stages or maybe work some type of contingency into the agreement? Or is the detail in the conflict management coaching agreement (pg. 91 – 93) always sufficient? Say, for instance, the client keeps insisting you give advice or provide training?

 

In the paragraphs about the length of the sessions and coaching (pg. 98 – 100), I was wondering, could you give a few examples? Jones and Brinkert explain that in the CCC model coaching “a moderately  extensive conflict coaching relationship may include 8 – 12 one-hour sessions and span over 2 to 3 months” (pg. 41). I realize that situations probably differ vastly, but if you could maybe refer back to the examples of Wayne, Clara and Greg from chapter 2 it would help the reader a better perspective on this topic?

 

Lastly, Cinnie, how do you manage to not give advice? I would struggle incredibly holding back from that. Is that a skill one develops over time? That is still one of the most intriguing aspects of the CINERGY models for me....

Hi Andre:

To begin with, I am very appreciative for  your comments and compliments. Thank you.

 

Chapter 2:

With respect to your comments about the 'boundary' of the Not So Merry Go Round of Conflict, I think  that how I describe  the evolution (or maybe it's the 'evilution' :))  from a conflict to a dispute is not exactly the 'name, blame, claim' framework you refer to.

I suggest that the evolution of interpersonal conflicts to disputes occurs when we experience that the other person has crossed a line for us. That is, we all have boundaries that denote our level of tolerance and there are some behaviors that push us too far and we know longer keep our feelings inside. Sometimes, it is a repeated behaviour  that we have been internally processing and putting up with for a period of time (and then one day we no longer accept it). Whatever that point is- when we externalize our reaction to being pushed - is when the other person is now engaged and gets on his/her own merry go round. That`s what I refer to as the dispute.

 

Chapter 3:

Demonstration:

I don`t have any precedent tapes of a demonstration that I show the client about how coaching works. Rather, I find it`s very useful for the client to have his or her own experience of what it`s like. What Tammy describes is what I do as well.

 

Being mutually suited:

With respect to the question about being mutually suited for each other in the coach-ciient relationship, this topic is typically part of the inquiry and intake conversation, and I don`t make it a separate term of the Agreement per se.   I  stress the importance of building a trusting relationship during the initial discussions and ask the client if it`s okay with him or her that we share any concerns as they arise. I have not had a client say no to this and I have had clients raise matters that come up for them. This type of dialogue models  openess and flexibility and serves to co-create and build a partnership.

 

Advice giving:

It`s rare in my practice that clients insist on me giving advice or training. On the occasions when people do ask for my advice I take the same approach that Tammy does and it works effectively.

You asked in this regard, how to hold back from giving advice. This is one area that distinguishes coaching  from consulting, mentoring, advising. To start with, my coach training taught me a lot about the importance of self determination in this forum and the value of empowering people to help themselves. When I was then doing research in the development of my coaching model, the repeated experience of the study group members was that their most memorable insights and durable changes came from them figuring things out for themselves.

Learning how to ask possibility questions and honouring adult learning principles are integral to accomplishing this. This is consistent with the philosophy of the International Coach Federation which refers to clients as creative, resourceful and whole. When coaches let clients know that we trust they have the answers-  in whatever way we do that- the clients find the answers that work for them and their contexts.

Timing and duration of coaching:

With respect to your question about the timing of sessions and duration of coaching, this does indeed vary from client to client. I mentioned that in the research, the majority of study group members said that 50-60 minutes was the maximum amount of time they could concentrate. Sometimes sessions may be less than 50 minutes but generally, I schedule an hour for each session.

As for duration - in addition to intake time of approxiamtely one hour  -  I am typically retained for at least 8 sessions for dispute specific matters. In my experience, the minimum time it takes a client to go through the model and be prepared to follow through on one goal is approximately 6 hours. However, I have coached clients who are able to proceed in less time and others who require more time.  When clients are working on shifting conflict conduct and a series of disputes related to the behaviours, I may be retained for up ot 6 months. I do want to add that in some cases, budgetary constraints limit the duration of coaching.

 

In the examples from the book  I do not recollect the exact duration of those  Andre,  but  I  would guestimate an average of 8 sessions each in addition to intake.

Thank you for such great questions Andre and let us know if there is anything else you may want to ask.

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