Lately I have been hearing several of my friends complaining about their life partners. It seems it is more than usual, but maybe I am just more aware of their plaints these days for some reason. The gripes typically start with “I hate when he (or she)…” and the “odious” acts, as they perceive them, may be how the person answers the phone, eats, flosses, leaves laundry on the floor, makes puns, and on and on. Of course, the same sorts of responses may be made regarding siblings, friends, parents, etc.

I have noticed that the things being complained about generally seem to happen when there has been an accumulation of actions or repeated ones. Or, there is something else going on and the other person’s behaviours become the focus. That is, at times it appears that picking on specific actions that annoy us is one way of coping with underlying provocations and stressors that are not being expressed or faced. So, when this happens the “real” stuff can get lost.

This week’s ConflictMastery™ Quest(ions) blog invites you to consider this phenomenon as it applies to someone that provokes you with her or his habits, way of talking, mannerisms, etc.

  • What is it specifically that this person does that irritates you?
  • Why does that bother you?
  • Which of your values do you perceive are being undermined by this person’s actions that you identified?
  • If there is something more fundamental going on between you two that is underlying your irritation, what do you think that is?
  • What is stopping you from addressing the more fundamental matter (your answer to the previous question)?
  • Looking at this from someone else’s perspective – about you – what specifically are you saying or doing that she or he is complaining about?
  • What values might the other person perceive you are undermining by your words or actions? Why else may your actions provoke her or him?
  • What more fundamental matter or matters may underlie what she or he is complaining about with respect to you or your relationship?
  • What might be stopping her or him from letting you know (your answer to the previous question)?
  • For what reasons – in general – do you think we may pick on something someone is doing or saying rather than identifying the real issue(s)?

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

Originally posted at

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