CONFLICT RESOLUTION: From Internal to External

Well, isn’t this about the crux of it all in our world? And there are no two skills more central and basic for dealing with conflict than Focused Listening and Intuitive Focusing. This applies whether the conflict is purely:

  1. intrapsychic (inside of oneself)
  2. interpersonal (with your child, friend, coworker, or spouse)
  3. in a task-oriented group at the level of opposing views for  task-oriented problem-solving at work
  4. at the community, national, or international level between opposing factions and/or over scarce resources.

1. Intrapsychic (Inside of Yourself) Conflict Resolution: Intuitive Focusing

 “Two Sides” to Almost Every Issue!!!

Intuitive Focusing, central to the PRISMS/S Focusing Process ,  is exactly a process for sitting down with conflicting parts of yourself and getting a conversation going which can end in conflict resolution and finding a new way out, a Paradigm Shift.

Click here to go to a Mini-Course of exercises learning to use Intuitive Focusing to Solve Internal Conflicts 

2. Interpersonal conflict resolution: Interpersonal Focusing

Video: Passive Listening To Stop ArguingVideo: Active Listening For Empathy

 Projection = Pushing Internal Conflicts Outside

Amazingly, often, when we can’t resolve conflicts inside of ourselves, we thrust one half of that uncomfortable conflict out into the world in order to give ourselves some seeming inner peace. This is called “projection” and is the source of most of the interpersonal pain in the world.

To the degree to which I have buried my own ambivalent part, to that degree I will see it surrounding me in the outer world and “hate” or be “intolerant of” people who are like it in the outer world. Or, if I have had to bury a positive part of myself, I may react with envy or jealousy of someone on the outside who proudly displays that part of their being.

So, in my relationships with other people, I am going to “stumble upon” these lost and dissociated parts of my Self – and I am going to want to avoid facing my own uncomfortable inner conflict by seeing that outer person as the “cause” of my discomfort. So, I am not going to want to be around that person, or, if I am pursuing a lost “positive” part of myself, I may want to “possess” that outer person in an unhealthy way.

However, these accidental “stumblings” can be the quickest way to personal growth, to re-incorporating all of our parts and energies and talents into our larger, more conscious Self.   And, given the Self-Organizing Principle, the way in which our acorn is bound and determined to grow into its tree, our life to fulfill its Blueprint, we will tend, not just to “stumble upon” but to search out and even become intimately involved with people who represent the lost and repressed parts of ourselves.

If we can use the Interpersonal Focusing method of Creative Edge Focusing Pyramid  to work on these conflicts in a Listening/Focusing way, we can make maximum steps of personal growth using a self-help method.

When these lost parts of the Self are seen as specifically “healthy” or “useful” or “positive” parts of myself, like my creativity or sexuality or spirituality or self-respect, we can immediately see that recovering those lost aspects will be positive  for our personal growth.

But, even if they are more nasty-sounding parts of the Self, like anger or jealousy or selfishness or wishes to hurt others, still, in terms of personal growth, according to the Inner Blueprint Principle , bringing them out of the shadows and into the light will make them less nasty, will allow the Green Shoots of positive energy to be released and to grow in a healthy direction, healing these aspects and turning  them into useful energy for the whole Self.

For instance, repressed anger can become a healthy assertive way of standing up for oneself; repressed jealousy can lead to the discovery of that same desired quality inside of oneself, repressed selfishness can turn into a healthy capacity to be “self-centered” when in danger of being consumed by caring for others, a wish to hurt can unveil a way in which I was hurt as a child which can then be healed.

There is a bonus that comes with Interpersonal Focusing.  As I come, through Focused Listening, to understand more about what the other person is really like, separate from my “projection” of my own shadow onto them, I come to feel love, as Agape, for that other person.  As I come to know my reaction to the other person more thoroughly, through Intuitive Focusing, I can come to love that previously cut-off part of myself as well. So, the actual process of working through conflict actually creates love, love and self-acceptance inside of my Self and Agape in the world.

Mini-Course: Interpersonal Focusing

Each link below leads to a short blog with actual exercises you can practice to learn interpersonal conflict resolution

(subscribe to the Instant “Ahah!” e-newsletter for a year-long e-course walking you through all the Creative Edge Mini-Courses in small bites with weekly exercises to practice, and a free download of the Instant “Ahah!” Mini-Manual in English and Spanish. Then join the Creative Edge Practice yahoo e-group for ongoing demonstrations and support as you practice the skills)

Mini-Course: Personality Differences (discovering underlying concepts which can keep individual differences from becoming personality clashes)

Each link below leads to a short blog with explanation and links to actual personality tests you can take online

Or go directly to our Personality Test Section to find links to free online tests you, your friends, and colleagues can take right now.

(subscribe to the Instant “Ahah!” e-newsletter for a year-long e-course walking you through all the Creative Edge Mini-Courses in small bites with weekly exercises to practice, and a free download of the Instant “Ahah!” Mini-Manual in English and Spanish. Then join the Creative Edge Practice yahoo e-group for ongoing demonstrations and support as you practice the skills)

3. Group-Level Conflict Resolution With Listening/Focusing Turns

While our personal conflicts with one other person can be devastating enough for us, personally, if they are not worked through in a Listening/Focusing way with Interpersonal Focusing  , it is our “projections” of our negative shadow sides onto whole groups of other people which  are most devastating to the fabric of our society. Because then we join together as groups of people against other groups of people, feeding upon each other’s hatred, prejudice, and stereotyping, escalating ourselves through a mob-like projection process into groups which engage in gang wars, hate crimes, discrimination of various forms, and, eventually, terrorism and wars.

We also engage in similar kinds of mob-projection of our positive sides out into the world, so we “fall in love with” our sports heros and movie stars and rock stars. But lets look at the negative group projections here.

For instance, if I am heterosexual, and I can’t handle the fact that once upon a time I felt a sexual feeling or “fell in love with” a person of the same sex, or even imagined such a thing, then I will “project” my hatred and intolerance of this inner part of myself out onto actual homosexuals out in the world. And, if I really want to make myself feel better and stronger in fighting against my inner impulse, I will join together with other people who have the same repressed inner side. Then, we will all project that onto those in the outer world who manifest that shadow side, and, boom, prejudice, discrimination,  hate crimes, war.

So, an effective method of reducing group-level hatred, discrimination, and prejudice is the use of the basic Listening/Focusing skills and the Interpersonal Focusing method, either in pairs, as above, or in groups – people Focusing upon their Creative Edge related to the other group and receiving Focused Listening to help articulate this Edge and, hopefully, reach a Paradigm shift at the level of perceptual schemata.

4.  Task-Oriented Group Conflict Resolution: Collaborative Edge Focusing Decision Making Method

While more personal interpersonal conflicts can arise in task-oriented business meetings, these can often most profitably be dealt with outside of the task-oriented meeting, using the Interpersonal Focusing method. Here, let’s talk about conflicts at task-oriented meetings that are about the content of the meeting, the actual problems to be solved and decisions to be made.

Now, the Creative Edge Concept comes into its own. The basic assumption is that the “new” can only come from The Creative Edge of felt experiencing of individual participants. Creativity, quality of decisions, and effectiveness of decisions in terms of motivation to carry them out,  will all be increased by using structures for group process which allow participants to contribute, not just from their already-known logical, or linear, “left-brain” thinking, but also from their more intuitive, non-linear “right-brain” thinking.

This Creative Edge is accessed through the Intuitive Focusing skill. And, in the flow of decision making meetings, Intuitive Focusing is encouraged  by stopping interruptions and offering uninterrupted time for the articulation of the new from the Creative Edge.

See Collaborative Thinking short-form of “How To’s”for group decisionmaking,  and Collaborative Edge Focusing Decision Making Method   for links to download Dr. McGuire’s comprehensive article, in English or Spanish

Blog Collaborative Edge Focusing Decision Making: “Caring Feeling Presence” At Work


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These materials are offered purely as self-help skills. In providing them, Dr. McGuire is not engaged in rendering psychological, financial, legal, or other professional services. If expert assistance or counseling is needed, the services of a competent professional should be sought.