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Crew Coach: Honest view of conflict requires clear, calm state of mind

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Crew Coach: by Capt. Rob Gannon

Isn’t it great when we are working on a crew or a team and everything is flowing nicely? Lots of smooth sailing and calm seas, with things getting done and everyone feeling good. Everything is fine, until it isn’t.

Conflicts can arise, personalities can clash – but that doesn’t have to be a terrible thing if problems are dealt with in a healthy way. Sometimes it takes looking within. It’s not always the other person at fault.

Yes, sometimes there is a clear right and wrong, but many times not. Often what happens is a clash of personalities and egos and stubbornness. We dig in with our story from our perspective and all that comes with that  perspective. We convince ourselves it’s not me, it’s you; it’s not us, it’s them.

It is easy to feel that all these conflicts and problems are coming from the outside, from others. What’s wrong with them? Battle lines start to get drawn. Walls start to go up, we are offended, and the needed direct and honest conversations are avoided. I think you can see this is clearly going down the wrong road. But it’s not so clear when inside of us, the turbulence surrounding our true selves has muddied the waters.

Anyone who spends a good amount of time on the water – especially those who fish, dive and snorkel – has seen the visibility clear up in the water on flat, calm, tranquil days. We also see that when the wind kicks up the waves and the seas get a little rough, visibility goes way down. It’s all murky and cloudy and stirred up. The same thing goes on within us. When the personal sea inside of us is raging, stormy and confused, our clear vision can be severely altered. We may need to step back, let the waters calm and let the visibility return. And it will, if we let it.

Whenever I begin with a new client in my coaching service, I ask if they will agree to go through the process of an honest self-assessment. This exercise has been proven to be very effective for growth and understanding where we are and where we want to go next.

It’s not always easy for everyone. Not everyone is comfortable taking that honest look inside. Some folks avoid it their whole lives and very often can pay a price for that avoidance. I can’t guarantee it’s going to be easy, but I feel very good about the benefits and value that come from opening up to honest self-assessment.

So, getting back to a conflict among  the crew or team, the challenge in the moment is to be able to dial back from the frustration and anger one may feel, and reach for that inner place where the visibility is better. It may not be available immediately; we may need to step away. But it is there and it’s waiting for us to reconnect to it.

In a tense confrontation or discussion, there is nothing wrong with calling a timeout. We can say to the other person that we are feeling too frustrated and we need to step away to gain some clarity and calm.

If we do that, and if we use that time to look within and let the seas calm, we can begin again to address the situation with an openness we couldn’t access in our agitated, defensive state. Then things can be cleaned up – but only if the calm, open, honest conversation takes place.

It’s not good after blurting out some angry stuff to just walk away and let it fester. I have found it’s always better, even if one has to step away, to see the conversation through, work past the uncomfortable parts and come away in a better place.

So before jumping to blame others, digging in, pulling back or being offended, try to remember that a clear, honest and fair assessment of the situation may not be possible without first making an honest assessment of ourselves. Tell the ego to take a seat. You are the captain and will be steering the ship out of the storm and towards those calmer seas.

Enjoy the voyage.

Capt. Rob Gannon is a 30-year licensed captain and certified life and wellness coach (yachtcrewcoach.com). Comments are welcome below.

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