Category: conflict

3D Juggling 609: Going Round in Triangles

Claire writes: “It’s not often that a day goes by without hearing someone talking about what has been done to them or hasn’t been done for them.  Whether it’s about parents or children, partners, colleagues, volunteers or bosses, it happens.  It can sabotage adult to adult relationships. We hear it in organisations all the time.  People perceive that others have power over them and are ‘doing to’ them (persecutor). Others feel that they have less power than others and experience feelings of being victims.  And often managers or leaders or vicars or parents or friends or coaches want to or are invited to take the role of rescuer and we end up going round in circles.

Karpman drew from his experience in transactional analysis and noticed that when these three positions are taken, it’s not long before people change roles.  The victim becomes the persecutor, the persecutor is invited to rescue, and so on.  Karpman called it the Drama Triangle.

If you are a manager or leader or vicar or parent or friend or coach and are asked to – or tempted to – step into the rescuer role, remember that you could make the situation worse by taking that power.  It’s not that complex to make a difference because instead of doing that, you can share the power:

  • How can I help you work out what to do now?
  • What can I do now to help you think through that conversation you need to have?

In some teams and organisations, there are many victims, persecutors and rescuers and it is costly in time and money and relationships.  You can begin to shift that one conversation at a time.  In fact, that’s not too difficult.  What is harder is to do that consistently. That’s where culture changes.  But some of us rather like being rescuers.  And in the short term, it is quicker.

© 2013 3D Coaching Ltd
May be distributed freely.  Please retain contact details: and send a copy/ link to
Subscribe to 3D Juggling

3D Juggling 585: Spanners and Kites

We’ve been busy in the last few weeks preparing to restructure the business so that it better reflects our values.  Watch this space and we will share when we get there!

Claire writes: “Misunderstandings happen all the time.  Every time we open our mouth, there’s a risk of a misunderstanding.  Mostly we are understood.  But at worst, misunderstandings take considerable recovery time and can affect organisations and relationships.

Sometimes we just need to be more clear.  If you are flying a kite, and raising possibilities (that don’t have a fully formed business plan) or thinking around a problem, say what you’re doing.  Otherwise your kite can be received as a spanner in the works.

When do you need to be clearer and stand in the shoes of your listener? Think about it…”

If it would be useful to talk this through, call us on 01462 483798.

© 2012 3D Coaching Ltd
May be distributed freely.  Please retain contact details: and send a copy/ link to

3D Juggling 520: Communicating Effectively

Jane writes: Towards the end of the 1967 movie Cool Hand Luke, Luke says “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate”.  Then he gets shot. What he said may have been true, but it didn’t achieve the best of outcomes.

Communicating effectively is core to our success at work, at home, in our communities.  It’s particularly important when we need to be agile during times of change.  It doesn’t mean always saying what we feel or think when we’re feeling or thinking it and leaving the other person to deal with the fallout, and it doesn’t mean holding onto stuff until we explode over everyone.  Maybe something that John Galliano should have understood.  France, as Galliano is in the process of finding out, is a secular society with a zero tolerance policy to incitement of religious hatred, with culprits facing up to six months in jail.

Effective communication does mean treating others with respect, exchanging some meaning (so listening and checking things out is important), and creating some value.  It allows for different views and beliefs, recognising that where these are different it is possible to acknowledge this and respect the other person’s position – allowing us to carry on our conversation.

We like  the advice given in Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success in Work and in Life, One Conversation at a Time by Susan Scott, and Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most by Bruce Patton, Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen.

The phrase ‘what we’ve got here is failure to communicate’ is often used to allocate blame when it has not been possible to reach agreement about something, especially when we view the other person as a powerful opponent.  What difference could it make if we viewed them as someone with a different view or agenda to ours rather than an opponent, and acknowledged this as a starting point for a new conversation?

© 2011 3D Coaching Ltd
May be distributed freely. Please retain contact details: and send a copy/ link to

3D Juggling 501: No words

On BBC 2s Big Silence last week, Christopher Jameson said “Life would be transformed for the better if we learned to embrace silence”. When that’s positive it’s transformational… but that’s not always the case:

Jane writes: “I am reading a book called ‘The Help’ by Kathryn Stockett where she talks about a series of events which initiated a feeling of great bitterness. The character describes how her face went hot and her tongue went twitchy. She didn’t know what to say, all she knew was that she wasn’t saying it. She knew that the other person involved wasn’t saying what she wanted to say either and noticed that there was a strange thing happening where nobody was saying anything yet they were still managing to have a conversation.

Sound familiar? Sometimes we don’t respond to what we see and feel because we don’t know how to in a way that keeps us safe. Sometimes we don’t respond because we don’t think it’s our place to do so.

What difference could it make in your organisation if you could help others to acknowledge and respond to what’s really going on, to what’s being understood through those silent conversations? Could you save the time that is currently being spent on trying to keep the lid on things, and then on dealing with the fallout with the lid flies off? Maybe less time spent dealing with grievances and investigations?

We try to keep our coaching interventions very simple. Simple does not mean easy. We aim to help other coaches achieve simplicity through our Coaching for Excellence development programme, where we strip away all the complexities that have become associated with effective coaching and focus on the core skill of truly listening, of responding to what they see and feel as well as what they hear.

Talk to us about how we can help you through supervision, or about our Coaching for Excellence programme.”

2010 3D Coaching Ltd
May be distributed freely.  Please retain contact details: and send a copy/ link to

3D Juggling 490: Litigation – or conversation?

Jane writes: “Are you having to find savings that mean other’s jobs might disappear?  Check out these statistics.  Last year the number of unfair dismissal claims accepted by employment tribunals increased by 9% to 57,400.  Claims associated with redundancy pay rose by 76% to 19,000.  Age discrimination claims rose by 37% to 5,200.

So how can you and your organisation minimise the risk of litigation when people have to leave even though they don’t want to?  When they’re not interested in the reasons why their job has gone, just the impact this has?  When they’re scared about the future and want someone to blame?  Obviously you need to follow any procedures that your organisation has put in place to comply with legislation, but how can you help people to leave with a good story to tell about their experience of leaving, even if they didn’t want to go?

People are likely to be prepared to ‘have a go’ at making a claim because they don’t have much to lose and could benefit to the tune of a few thousand pounds – even where you have followed all the correct procedures. They may be more likely to ‘have a go’ if they feel that their concerns and fears haven’t been considered, or if they feel that all the goodwill and expertise they have invested in your organisation is being treated as worthless.  So make time to talk, and to listen.  These are urgent and important tasks – make them a priority.

Invite conversations about reality – theirs, not yours. Hear their concerns and fears without judgement.  You don’t need to take responsibility for what happens after they leave, but you should take responsibility for helping them to understand why they are leaving and what they are taking with them.  Help them to recognise and accept their responses to unwelcome change, and to recognise and articulate their skills and achievements so that they can explain these to others.  Thank them for whatever you can be honestly grateful for.

The number of claims accepted by employment tribunals in 2009-10 was 236,100, an increase of 56% on the previous year. This is the highest figure on record.

What do you need to do to avoid being associated with this increase?”

© 2010 3D Coaching Ltd
May be distributed freely.  Please retain contact details: and send a copy/ link to

Fact: Employment Tribunals are independent judicial bodies who determine disputes between employers and employees over employment rights.  Fighting a claim may cost £5k a day (and that doesn’t include figures in respect of compensation).

3D Juggling 488: Handle with care

Su writes: “In recent days a ‘media storm’ has grown around a particular Facebook group supporting a man described in various quarters as a murderer and a victim of the prison service.

Few posters on this group were actually supportive of the actions of the man. In fact, what was happening on the site was that people were excited to be engaged in an online conversation which was in real time having an impact on the media. As Andrew McNeil reported to the audience of ‘This Week’ that the Facebook site was getting more and more interest, this was immediately commented on with pleasure by one of the posters. Whatever the moral argument for whether the site should have been created or kept live, what was happening on it was different to how it was being reported.

The media was accurate in reporting the number of supporters on the site – but the detail behind the numbers told a different story. As a result great generalisations were posited by newspapers and politicians declaring what this indicated about our “broken” society.

The quantitative data said one thing: the qualitative another. The statistics were easy to report and re-report without interaction with the data behind it – eg what was really being said. The evidence was easy, the reporting lazy. Assumptions were made and held up as fact.

As managers we have to be careful with how we deal with data when appraising our staff.  Is the evidence we have reliable and valid? Does it need further investigation in order to make an assumption of what this means about our team member’s performance? It is too easy to take one piece of data about a team member and without challenging this, use it as evidence of fact.

Questions we can ask are:

•    is this one example of behaviour indicative of typical behaviour?
•    why did this happen? is there background data that needs to be investigated?

In order to be fair about the performance of members of our team, handle data with care.”

© 2010 3D Coaching Ltd
May be distributed freely.  Please retain contact details: and send a copy/ link to

Follow us on Twitter 3dclaire
Facebook 3D Coaching

3D Juggling 484: 70-68 In the Final Set

Claire writes:  “Did you, like me, watch the end of the Isner/Mahut match more than once?  On Tuesday, on Wednesday several times… and again on Thursday?  183 games with each player attacking and defending in equal measure.  It was an impasse.

Isn’t that what happens at work sometimes?  A colleague will comment or make a small criticism and the other person will defend themselves in a way that is aften received as an attack.  ‘I didn’t mean it like that. I meant….’ The dialogue continues.  Except that it is not dialogue. It’s an impasse.  And the longer an impasse continues, the more there is to lose.  It becomes a battle of egos. Isner and Mahut were each representing themselves and their country.  At work, we are all mean to to be working in service of the organisation and what it is there for! And time, relationships and even money are spent in battles which are being fought and lost.

The tennis match was always going to end in win/lose.  Can you imagine them agreeing they could both win?! At work, we need to take a higher view, and consider what the organisation needs. And perhaps the dialogue comes out of the question: ‘How can we…?'”

© 2010 3D Coaching Ltd
May be distributed freely.  Please retain contact details: and send a copy/ link to

3D Juggling 465: Why don’t they listen?

Jane writes: “I have a collection of postcards that I often use when working with groups. I invite group members to rummage through them and find one or two that they can use to help them describe something -maybe how it feels for them to be in their team, or what they want to achieve by the end of our time together. Out of all my postcards there are a few that almost always get selected. One of them shows a child holding the face of her mother in her hands to gain her attention and saying ‘Listen!’.

People use this picture to help them explain how they feel when no-one hears them, or when an organisation is unwilling to hear about issues that an individual or team believe are really important. Sometimes when an individual feels that they are not being heard it may be because they don’t know how to say what they need to say, and sometimes it may be that their target is not able to hear what they’re saying.

There are two things for us to take responsibility for here:

  • working out what we need as a result of communicating (‘What is my desired outcome?’) so that we can work out what we need to say
  • paying attention to others when they try to tell us something and checking that the message we received was the one they intended us to receive

What difference would that make in your workplace?

Because it can be difficult to do both of these things we offer a tool that helps individuals and teams to understand why they find it more difficult to be heard by some people or groups than others, and what they can do about it. We also use this tool to explore why we find some people harder to listen to than others, and how to help those people to help us to hear them.

We have used this tool to help people to raise difficult issues safely, building relationships where there was a fear that relationships might be harmed. We have used it to help team members resolve conflicts, enabling the team to work effectively so that it can regain credibility with its customers. We have used it to help teams’ present issues to senior managers with the needs of those managers so clear to them that their message, although challenging, was welcomed.

How could this tool help you?”

Love this? Do us a favour and send it to five people. Who thinks like you? You could send it to someone who says listen or who you would like to listen!

© 2010 3D Coaching Ltd
May be distributed freely. Please retain contact details: and send a copy/ link to

3D Juggling 460: Personality clash?

Jane writes: “Have you ever heard someone say when describing a problem between two people, ‘It’s a personality clash’? And have you noticed how this is left hanging in the air as if to say ‘That’s it, I’ve tried everything and there’s nothing that can be done to help’? Except of course that managers and organisations do try to ‘help’ – often when faced with claims of bullying or harassment or long term stress related absence. And that help often leads to more stress for the individuals concerned and their colleagues, and sometimes to formal grievances, disciplinary cases, and maybe people being moved or even leaving an organisation (along with all their knowledge and skills). And all of this takes up a lot of time, and time costs money.

So how can we help safely and sooner to minimise the impact of ‘personality clashes’ on individuals and teams?

We use DiSC profiling as a tool to help people better understand their communication preferences, the impact these can have, related benefits and challenges, and how they can adapt when working with others to minimise conflict and maximise their effectiveness. DiSC provides simple, safe language that can be used to talk about difference and help people to state their needs with respect for those of others. We have found that this really helps people who couldn’t talk to each other to have productive conversations, which in turn lead to productive working relationships. How much could this save your organisation? Who do you know who might benefit from using DiSC?

Want to know more? Talk to us

Love this? Do us a favour and send it to five people. Who thinks like you? You could send it to someone who has a personality clash in their team.

Discuss this week’s juggling at

© 2009 3D Coaching Ltd
May be distributed freely. Please retain contact details: and send a copy/ link to

Follow us on Twitter 3dclaire
Facebook 3D Coaching

Coming Soon:
21st January Action Learning Set Facilitator Training – London

3D Juggling 432: Words

Elizabeth writes: “Politics is a hot topic this week! A politician was in the news again for controversial remarks made in frustration with a reporter. For days he was hounded for an apology. Even if he didn’t intend to offend, he did.

The way we use language is always important. We are responsible for how we are heard as well as what we say. Our tone of voice and body language all contribute, and even when no malice is intended, these can lead to misunderstandings. As individuals, we all have different views, cultures and ethics and what offends one may be nothing to another. As living beings we have specific needs, feelings, values and opinions. We can cause injury and hurt through our careless concern or lack of empathy for the other.

The challenge is to communicate in a way that is heard and understood by someone so even if the message is difficult to hear, it does not deliberately offend. This can only come from dialogue rooted in self-esteem and a genuine sense of equality with the other person – an intention to connect with the other through mutual respect.

We can listen patiently and seek the truth that other people’s opinions may contain for us. Think it possible that we may be mistaken! Otherwise, differences + tension = conflict. How are you heard by colleagues?”

Love this? Do us a favour and send it to five people. Who thinks like you? You could send it to someone who feels misunderstood.

© 2009 3D Coaching Ltd May be distributed freely. Please retain contact details: and send a copy/ link to