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Posts Tagged ‘stocktaking’

On one of the first days of 2013, while digging deep into the back corners of my desk-drawers to trawl in the dust-covered odds and ends that had slipped out of my line of vision over the last twelve months, I came across a hand-written quotation given to me by my son on New Year’s day two or three years ago.  It was so much to the point, that I was left wondering why this particular scrap of paper had found its way back into my hands.  As I sat there pondering the significance of my find, I thought of its wider relevance to those of us in interpersonal conflict and decided to pass it on to you with my very best wishes for a wonderful new year.  Here it is:

“We spent January 1st walking through our lives, room by room, cleaning up, a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives not looking for flaws but for potential”   Ellen Goodman

This inspiring quote beautifully describes the process of personal stocktaking that we should all perform at least once a year:    identifying the different rooms of our lives – family, career, friendships, health, education, spirituality, values – and then going through  the list and evaluating where we stand in each of them and recording where improvement or change is necessary.  So far so good but the true inspiration in this moving image of two people wandering through the dusty rooms of their lives together and taking stock lies in the call to redirect our eye to the hidden treasures hidden beneath the debris.   We’re asked to break from the mould and not,  as we often do, to highlight the flaws and defects but to uncover and explore the hidden potential in that which is imperfect in our lives.  Why is something not working? What does this tell us? Where is the lesson we need to learn?  and What is the gift that lies waiting in our imperfection?

Conflict is always a sign of one or more parties seeking change to an aspect of their relationship.   While we willingly acknowledge that there is no growth without pain and that conflict is par for the course in relationships, when we encounter conflict head-on,  we often run and hide or respond inappropriately and in so doing, overlook the wonderful opportunity for growth that it brings.

Instead of avoiding conflict, instead of sticking our heads in the sand and hoping that it will go away or answering the conflict challenge aggressively and hoping to defeat the other, let us recognise the potential that conflict brings, the chance for a deepening of connection and for personal growth.

As we walk through the rooms of our interpersonal relationships at the beginning of this year, don’t sweep away the conflicts you see lurking in the shadows,  welcome them in as opportunities to create stronger and more meaningful bonds between us all.

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Ever found yourself in front of a store in the early weeks of a new year faced with a sign reading: Closed for Stocktaking?  Annoying as it is, part of me admires the process happening behind the locked doors – a kind of counting your chickens and getting your house in order that seems both simple and wholesome and that has in essence, despite today’s electronic scanners, hardly changed over centuries.  The process of stocktaking enables businesses to get more than a general overview of where they stand.  It allows them to see what is good and what is amiss on their shelves or behind their computer screens and on the basis of that, to adjust, correct and fine-tune with a view to optimizing  business in the year ahead.  In short, stocktaking is the essential groundwork for change, for setting goals and for realising potential.

At a personal level, the end of one year and the beginning of the next, offers us all a wonderful opportunity to reassess our values, to look more closely at the problems that beset us and to align the wheels of change for our future growth.  Making personal stocktaking an annual event to assess your strengths and weaknesses and to adjust the path on which you are travelling is a hallmark of mindful living.

From a conflict management point of view, what are the factors involved in personal stocktaking?  The following 10 questions will give you a good idea of how you stand in your management of interpersonal conflict be it in the workplace or in private relationships:

 

So, instead of the ubiquitous,  off-the-cuff New Year’s Resolutions, why not close for personal stocktaking this year?  Take half a day to assess where you stand as regards conflict management and make whatever adjustments are necessary to ensure that at the end of 2012 you are able to add conflict competence to your list of personal achievements and satisfying personal relationships to your capital gain.  

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The first step in any change process is assessment.  Whether it is a business proposition, a lifestyle choice, a career move or the purchase of a new home, we take stock and measure the viability of staying with the old as against the implications of taking on the new.

But how often do we assess our own lives that carefully?  How often do we take stock of where we are and question whether we are really serving ourselves well with the choices we have made?  Self-assessment is the path to self-awareness and the portal to transformation. Knowing yourself is the precondition for effective change.

In conflict coaching, self-awareness forms the lion’s share of the coaching process.  Becoming aware of how one responds, why one responds as one does and how well one’s conflict responses and habits serve one is the unconditional groundwork for change.   There are various tools and formal assessments available to assist in the process but these only make sense if they are supported by self-awareness inquiries on the part of the client as regards far more fundamental issues in life.   I like to ask my clients to start the self-awareness process by assessing their lives on a scale of 1 – 10 (1 being at the negative and 10 at the positive ends of the scale) according to a number of  statements.  Here are a handful of those I think are most useful to start the personal stocktaking process:

(1) I know my personal values and they guide my life

(2) I know myself and like who I am

(3) I have a set of standards for my life by which I live

(4) I have no unresolved issues in my past

(5) I don’t let people take advantage of me

(6) I tolerate very little

(7) I easily find pleasure in simple things

(8) I know that my life is a result of my choices

(9) I am  not driven or  motivated by unmet needs

(10) I have a life plan and am working on it

Sitting down to answer these is often an eye-opening experience that marks the beginning of the self-awareness process and gives the client a first reading of where change is needed or where growth has been stagnant.

So in much the same way as a business would justify stocktaking – to give true value to the profit and loss reading at the end of the balance sheet, so too do we profit from personal stocktaking:  through heightened self-awareness and a conscious assessment of where we stand in our lives are we able to determine what the next steps have to be to reach greater fulfilment.

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