You’ve probably heard the expression, “the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.” This exercise is somewhat like this, in that, perhaps, one part of the brain does not recognize what another part of the brain is doing.
The left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing
You’ve probably heard the expression, “the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.” This exercise is somewhat like this, in that, perhaps, one part of the brain does not recognize what another part of the brain is doing. In both cases, integration is helpful, wouldn’t you say?
Mental models are the images, assumptions, ideas, and stories we carry around in our heads. In this assignment, the idea is to turn your mental mirror inward so you can have a look at your internal pictures and thoughts and bring them to the surface where you can see them.
The purpose of this exercise is to become more aware of how you communicate in moments of conflict while exploring how the position you take in this conflict might be related to your actual interests. (You will learn more about positions and interests in a later module.) In order to achieve the maximum learning, follow the steps exactly as they are laid out. Include your chart and the noted paragraph describing the conflict (from Part A), and the part B analysis.
Part A – Describing the Conflict
1. Choose a problem to write about. This should be a difficult or challenging interpersonal situation you’ve been involved in the recent past, say the last two or three months. Write a brief paragraph describing the situation at the top of the page. You can also create a chart on a computer if you prefer. Some examples might be:
You can’t reach agreement with a friend or colleague on an important issue
You believe you have been treated unfairly
Lastly, You believe that you (or your ideas) are being ignored
If you can’t think of a conflict which matches the criteria, then choose a less recent one, or imagine one you might have had.
2. Divide the rest of the page into two columns to create a table.
3. Label the right-hand column “What I Said.” Recall the frustrating or annoying conversations you had about this conflict. Write down the dialogue (i.e., what was said) in as much detail as you can remember, in this column.
4. Label the left-hand column “What I Was Thinking and Feeling.” In the left-hand column, write down what you were thinking and feeling at the time, but did not say.
5. Reflect on what you have written. What were the differences? Writing your answers to questions 6 to 13 will help you figure this out.
Part B – The Analysis
Begin by writing a brief paragraph or inserting a chart of the conflict situation, as described in Part A above. Then reflect thoughtfully on the following questions:
1. (5 marks) What led me to think and feel the way I did before and during the conflict?
2. (5 marks) What was my intention? What was I trying to accomplish? Did I get the results I intended?
3. (5 marks) Did my comments contribute to the difficulties? How?
4. (5 marks) What assumptions did I make about the other person or people?
5. (5 marks) What were the costs, if any, of operating this way? The payoffs?
6. (5 marks) What prevented me from acting differently?
7. (20 marks) How could I rewrite this conversation if I were to have it now? Address the following specifically:
Firstly, How could my right-hand column bring some of my important left-hand column thinking to the surface?
Secondly, What could I have said that would effectively help the other person reveal their left-hand column?
Thirdly, How did I say what I said? Did my tone of voice or body language affect how my message was heard?
Finally, How did the other person hear me? What, if anything, could I have done to make sure my message was clearly heard?
8. (20 marks) Summary Reflection: What have I learned from this assignment?
Submit your answers to Part B (questions 1 through 8) together with a summary of experience and learning achieved through this assignment in the drop box.
The summary must be a minimum 250 words.
You can use this tool in the future for resolving any kind of interpersonal conflict, at work or at home. If you are working with others, coaching or parenting, or even in terms of a conversation with a friend that went bad, try it out.