Chris Markiewicz's Blog
Every Monday – thoughts, observations and ideas that hold up a mirror to who & how we are

It takes two

As a training practitioner and coach I find that I am constantly learning new things myself and I’m sure I will do so for a good many years to come. I learn of course from fellow professionals, from books, the internet and other such sources. However, sometimes a powerful insight can come from a most surprising source.

 One example of this occured a few years ago, when I was running a programme on how to deal with “difficult” people. This particular course was for a firm of contractors who were providing housing stock maintenance for a local authority. The participants were all men who were employed to carry out house repairs such as fixing gutters, roofing etc.

 At one point during the programme one of these men blurted out something quite extraordinary;

 “Chris, I’ve just realised something – in any conflict, I’m half the problem!”

 Whilst this was something that I was already aware of and formed part of what I taught, that phrase, coming from that person at that particular moment  somehow really fully brought it home for me for the first time. It also seemed to strike a strong chord with his colleagues in the room.

 What I think his realisation encapsulated was the following:  In any dispute, we can find it all too easy to make the other person the “problem”. We figure that, if they changed, things would be all right. The guy on that course vividly reminded me that any conflict is a dynamic – that it always takes two. He managed to cut through, razorlike, a belief that most of us on the planet stubbornly carry around – “I’m OK, they’re the problem”.

 Our teachers don’t just come in obvious forms. They don’t have to be qualified practitioners or “experts” in a given field and can just as likely be ordinary people from any walk of life.

 A fun footnote to this occurred a few months later. I had been running similar courses for the House of Commons. I was asked via the training organisation I was working through, to provide a quote for the following year’s House of Commons calendar. I had no hesitation in putting that man’s insight forward as a possible contribution.

 I have to admit that I subsequently had fantasies of Mr Blair (still PM at the time) et al, seeing the wise words on the calendar and perhaps, just perhaps taking heed.

 However, the quote wasn’t used.

 Funny that.


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