PeopleFirst! with Jen Goldman-Wetzler


by Morag Barrett

Today’s topic is one I try to avoid, but it seems life has a way of doing what it wants. Today we are talking about… Conflict! My guest this week is Dr. Jen Goldman-Wetzler. She is the CEO of Alignment Strategies Group, which is a premier New York-based consulting firm that helps CEOs and their executive teams optimize organizational health and growth. The key here is that she is the author of Optimal Outcomes: Free Yourself from Conflict at Work, at Home, and in Life. Jen is also a keynote speaker for Fortune 500 companies, public institutions, and leading startups. (Not to drop names, but you know that Google company? Yeah, that’s one of them.)  She is also a former counter-terrorism fellow for the US Department of Homeland Security. (Wow!) I could go on about her credentials, but we have a lot to get through. 
Let’s dive in.

 

Origin Story

As a little girl, Jen didn’t dream of being a counter-terrorism fellow. (Shocker!) She was actually very interested in interior design. Coming from a background that didn’t really have those luxuries, it seemed like a dream job. Today, she designs organizations and lives. 

What is Conflict?

People have so many different ways of defining conflict. It can be hard to nail down exactly what conflict, conflict resolution, etc. actually means. One way to define conflict is simply to say differing points of view that don’t seem to be reconcilable. Research often points to aiming for a win-win, but what happens when a win-win just isn’t in the cards? That’s where Dr. Jen enters the scene.

Conflict Patterns 

Very often, we learn our conflict habits and/or patterns at a young age. They can be learned from parents, teachers, clergies, etc. Many times it originates from the nuclear family. The four main habits are avoiding, blaming self, blaming others, and seeking to collaborate, even to the detriment of self. 

 

Breaking Patterns

So how do we break these patterns and habits that have been building for many, many years? The first step is simply knowing your habits. This might look like your heart rate increasing or clenching your jaw. The key? Pause. By noticing how or why you’re stuck, you give yourself a moment to take the reins back. Try to guess the conflict habit of your jousting partner. This can help you come to a resolution more quickly. 

 

Do Patterns Change?

Many times our conflict patterns shift depending on the person we are dealing with and their patterns. This is how pausing can again come into play as you assess which pattern you are currently stuck in! It’s important to know each pattern and habit, especially if you’re dealing with incandescent rage (spoiler from the interview, stop reading this and go listen)! 
 

Dealing with Emotions

There are two types of pauses. The pro-active pause is in the moment where you take a few seconds or minutes to assess. A longer pause (could be a few hours of meditation) may be necessary, but not all situations allow that type of time. Ask yourself what you’re feeling right now. Can you identify or name an emotion? (Incandescent rage, perhaps?) Second - let the emotions settle. Think of a muddy glass of water. As it sits, the mud settles to the bottom and you have clear water to drink. Do your emotions need to sit for a moment? Sometimes our emotions are trying to key us into what the body feels is dangerous to us. Acknowledge and thank your body and mind for raising awareness. The next step? Constructively handling the conflict. 
 

Moving Forward

Want to learn how to move forward with conflict? Tune into our conversation by clicking the links below! 

 

Watch away: Here!

Treat your earbuds: Here!

 

Resources:

Jen’s Website
LinkedIn

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