When we expect that an interaction is likely to be contentious, the chances are that many of us get the jitters.  We worry about what the other person may say or do, how we will cope, whether things will get out of hand and other possible reactions. Often the reasons for these jitters do not have a basis in reality. However, previous experiences, others’ narratives about what has happened to them in like circumstances and a wide range of fears may preoccupy us and lead us to feel unsettled, worried and anxious. Obviously, such jitter-causing stimuli get in the way of effectively engaging in conflict. It may be why some people avoid interactions that have the potential for being discordant.

To alleviate the jitters it helps to step back as much as possible before engaging in an interaction about which we feel jittery. The following questions help to facilitate reflections on situations such as this. Considering a situation that is giving you the jitters will provide some perspective as you answer them:

  • About what specifically are you experiencing the jitters?
  • How do you describe what you are feeling when you have the jitters?
  • What reasons do you get the jitters?
  • What fears to you have about this particular situation and/or the other person and/or about yourself?
  • How realistic are the fears, rating each on a scale of 1 to 5, 5 being absolutely realistic and 1 being not realistic at all?
  • What feelings would you like to have to replace the jitters?
  • How are the jitters helping you manage the situation effectively? How are the jitters not helping you?
  • How else may you look at this situation to help reduce the jitters?
  • What else may work to reduce the jitters?
  • When you are in a place that the jitters won’t interfere with how you proceed, what will be especially different?

What other ConflictMastery™ Quest(ions) may you add here?

Originally posted on www.cinergycoaching.com/blog/

Views: 87

Comment by John C. Turley on June 26, 2012 at 6:40pm


At present, I do not experience the jitters during my mediation sessions.  Certainly, I question whether or not I did my best at all times.  A self review and a debrief with a senior staff member are important to learn from mistakes.  A very wise senior mentor at the Washtenaw Dispute Resolution Center in Ann Arbor, MI told me to focus on the mediation process at all times.  Never allow emotions to get the better of you.  Display confidence.  If I did my job correctly according to the process, I should not feel tired or taxed.  I should sleep soundly.  I try to remember his helpful advice.  When I meet with him, I remind him of what he told me.  It works!

I also like your above checklist.  Processes make the world go round.  I discovered this after many years of trial and error until I started listening more closely to the IT engineers around me.  When you stick to the processes, life gets easier for everyone including those who resist process driven results.


Comment by Cinnie Noble on June 26, 2012 at 9:52pm

Thank you John for your comments. It sounds like you are living by and value the advice you received about  how to manage yourself when mediating.


The weekly ConflictMastery Quest(ions) blogs are aimed at increasing self awareness about how we ourselves engage in conflict - not necessarily as a practitioner. However, I can see that if any of us  have jitters in our roles as coaches or as a mediator in your case, that the same series of questions may help us to reflect on what that is about. 


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