🚀 Breathe.



Be a reflective person. Everything that I write about and teach is all about looking within yourself and asking, how can I do this better? Or how can I build on my strengths and also keep moving better and moving in the direction I want to move in? And so much of that is about self-reflection.

In this episode

How do you react in times of conflict? Have you ever stopped to even notice?

Today’s guest is Jennifer Goldman-Wetzler, CEO of Alignment Strategies Group, and author of “OPTIMAL OUTCOMES: Free Yourself from Conflict at Work, at Home, and in Life”… which is exactly what we discuss. 

In this episode, Jen shares what her personal process of reflection looks like and how having a morning and night reflection document can help you improve your life.

We also dive into conflict habits, conflict mapping, and what leaders can do to help resolve conflict on their teams. 

Tune in to hear about the characteristics of the world’s best negotiators and what everyone needs to claim in order to show up as their best selves.

Like this episode? Be sure to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review and share the podcast with your colleagues.


Being a reflective person


Gratitude lists


Optimal Outcomes method


How did I get stuck in conflict?


The pattern-breaking path


Conflict Mapping


World’s best negotiators



Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  00:29

 Jen, welcome to the show. 

Jennifer Goldman-Wetzler  02:03

Thank you so much, Aydin. 

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  02:14

It’s exciting to have you on! You are a leading expert on the conflict in Organizational Psychology, founder and CEO of alignment strategist group, and author of optimal outcomes for yourself from conflict at work at home and in life. And so this book came out right at the start of the pandemic?

Jennifer Goldman-Wetzler  04:03

You got it sure did. It was quite a time to launch the first book.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  04:07

And it and it’s interesting because like a lot of your career has also been I mean, you’ve acted as director of negotiation programs at mediation works facilitator at the program on negotiation at Harvard Law School. There’s a lot that we can dig in on today. But maybe one of the things that that we can start with is if you were to think back to the early days of when you first started managing teams or were in a leadership position. Do you remember some of the or perhaps like an early mistake that you tended to make back in those days?

Jennifer Goldman-Wetzler  04:42

Yeah, I think I made plenty. And I still make money today. I’m much better at helping other people get through their leadership and management challenges perhaps than I am navigating my fix. Some of the early ones were about not feeling confident. an as a leader or as a manager, and so I would kind of tiptoe around people, asking them to do things but not being real, you know, sure about exactly what I was asking or whether they would want or be willing to do it. And then, you know, after some time of tiptoeing around realizing, no, you know, these people, if this is this person’s job to do this work, and they’re here because they want to be here as well. And they’re rewarded in ways that I might not even be able to fully understand how this is exactly meaningful to them. And so having those kinds of conversations of why is this meaningful could have been useful to me. But yeah, so I think just tiptoeing around people when I didn’t need to be,

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  05:42

That’s a very interesting one. And I will dig in just a little bit. So is it this concept of maybe taking a look at a particular type of work? And then saying that, well, this is probably not fun? Like, in my head for these reasons. So I don’t want to, you know, I don’t want to put the burden of this not-fun thing on this person on my team. So I’m just gonna do it myself.

Jennifer Goldman-Wetzler  06:06

Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. I don’t know that I ever just did it myself. I think it was just more of these awkward conversations that I eventually did have, but that the conversations were awkward instead of just being a normal part of, you know, doing business. And that they didn’t need to feel as awkward or difficult for me, I think it was also a function of fact one of the first managing relationships that I had, where I was in a manager role was at mediation works Incorporated, which you mentioned. And it was an interesting organization in that it was a nonprofit, but we were serving corporate clients. And I was one of the people primarily serving the corporate side, doing the serving corporate clients. And so the person who I’m remembering kind of where I was struggling with this tiptoeing, she was an intern, I can’t know whether she was a paid intern or just an unpaid intern. But you know, it could have been that she was unpaid. And so that’s, that was also part of why I was tiptoeing around. But still, even when someone’s unpaid, you know, she was there, because she wanted to be there. She wanted to learn, and there were a lot of opportunities where I had to, that I had to teach her. And I’m sure that I did. And so I think it would have helped me to realize what she was getting out of it, and not only think about, you know, the burden that I might have been placed on her.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  07:24

Yeah, this is a theme one of those things that a lot of people struggle with, do you remember how you overcame that? Or how you realized that you know, of course, this person is here, because they want to learn? And, you know, by not getting them to do these things? Maybe I’m depriving them of that experience. Like, how did that How long did it take?

Jennifer Goldman-Wetzler  07:46

Yeah, I think it was many years later, that I, you know, that I realized that it was reflecting. Maybe the best I can say is that you know, a lifetime of being a reflective person. Certainly, everything that I write about everything that I teach about is all about looking within yourself and asking, How can I do this better? Or how can I build on my strengths and also keep moving better and moving in the direction I want to move in? And so much of that is about self-reflection. So I think it probably noticed this probably came out of years later reflecting more than anything that happened at the time. I don’t I think, you know, she eventually left the organization. And I don’t think I was ever able to make a fix in that relationship with her.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  08:34

Yeah, so this is interesting. So, you know you’re a thought leader, you, author, speaker. What is your process of reflection? So how do you like you have a process by which you spend time reflecting and learning from the past?

Jennifer Goldman-Wetzler  08:52

Yeah, well, for people looking, watching us on YouTube or whatever. This is a kind of heavy binder that I have. So I have a lot of notes for myself in here, my podcast notes, but also a reflection, a nightly reflection document that I’ve created for myself and me again, I’ve kind of iterated and expanded it over the years and changed it really, to reflect what the questions are that I want to ask myself each night before I go to sleep. And also some questions that I want to ask myself when I wake up each morning. And I see the look on your face of interest. And I want to assure people I am no, you know, perfect. I’m not perfect in this dimension. I don’t do this every single day, 365 days a year there certainly you know, on the weekends I take off from it to give myself a little bit of a break. And there can be you know, a month or two that will sometimes go by when I’m on vacation, then you know I have to get back on the bandwagon but for the most part, I have this built-in this nightly and morning ritual which is just super helpful to me. So, in the morning, I think about what am I grateful for, from the night before? Or from the day before? And how do I want to set up the day so that I maximize the day and optimize the day?

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  10:15

I have to ask you about the nightly questions. What are the sorts of things that that you answer?

Jennifer Goldman-Wetzler  10:20

Yeah, well, depends on what I’m working on. And that’s why I like that I’ve created it myself, rather than just using like The Five Minute Journal, which is a great, great resource that people can find. It’s a physical book, and they have preset questions for you. But the reason I like creating my own is that I can always change the questions up. So some questions as of late are, you know, how well did I treat my husband and my children? Or when did I get triggered emotionally? And what was the cause of that? And how could I do better next time? So you know, getting specific about the ways that I would like to improve my life and take care of myself and the people around me. And, and it is pretty incredible, that the questions do have to change over time because, after a while, they become irrelevant. So you know, might be six months before these questions change, or it might be two years. But at some point, you do kind of start to feel like okay, you know, I don’t have to ask myself this every day, because I’ve gotten a lot better at it just by asking the question and holding myself accountable to my answers.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  11:25

Yeah, it’s really interesting, because it’s, it’s like you you have this system that strictly by having it, you’re almost guaranteeing that you will improve over time. And what’s interesting is like your, and as you change the questions, you’re tuning it to make it the most relevant questions. I think that’s, that’s, that’s a great system. I mean, I think it’s something that will pay dividends for anyone who starts to implement it. Of all the questions that you’ve asked, is there one, which is like the, like a question that like, if everybody was going to answer one question on a nightly basis, what would you recommend? They ask themselves,


I mean, the one that first comes to mind is kind of cliche but is the main one, which it says, I am grateful for, colin. , and I just write down, you know, three to five things. And it is amazing. What a difference in the quality of life answering that question can make. How did I allow myself to be happy today is another one that I put working on? How did I notice my feelings? I mean, that gets right to chap was one of the chapters in my book of you know, you can’t have a conversation with other people about feelings if you don’t know what you’ve been feeling all day long. So just identifying and having that emotional literacy is a great first step. So it’s a great question to ask, how did I notice my feelings today? What did I do? And I have I’ve got a, what is it called? An alarm on my phone that goes off a few times a day that just has the question, What am I feeling? Or how, what am I feeling right now? And then I just have to answer, I’m feeling interested, I’m feeling tired. I’m feeling bored. I’m feeling happy. I’m feeling disgruntled. I’m feeling frustrated, I’m feeling stressed. Whatever it is, and just noticing and naming, the feeling, I find can be really helpful.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  13:23

You brought up the book. So I guess my question is, let’s talk about the why, like, why did you write this book? And how did you like, what message were you trying to give to the world?


I started writing this book, about 13 years before it was published. And so it was a long time in the making. The reason why I wrote the book is that I had been doing five years of research on intractable conflict of what makes people get stuck in these complex situations that seem to go around and around, and no matter how many times how hard you try to get out of them, they resist resolution. And I found at the end of those five years in graduate school, I was a student at Columbia University, and all of my five years of research had been funded by the US Department of Homeland Security. And I was really on the research wagon, and I could have stayed there for the rest of my life been very happy looking into what are the causes of conflict? And how do people get stuck? And what are the various complex mechanisms by which people get stuck, and then I realized at a certain point, I could spend the rest of my life looking at those causes and still not have anything to say about how we get out of them. So I shifted the focus of my research all towards the question of how can we get out of these intractable complex situations or seemingly intractable situations? And I started teaching a course at Columbia for graduate students, called Transforming conflict from within This was all about how to use yourself as a tool to shift the way you interact in a situation so that no one else around you even needs to change or even know that you’re interested in making a change in this complex at all. And you will still free yourself from the dynamic and thereby free other people as well, because it’s impossible to be stuck on a conflict loop, free yourself and have the other person still stuck in that loop. Right. There’s nothing else for them to do anymore. So they are by nature freed from it as well. And this, you know, happens on the individual level, team level, organization level, even international level. And there were students in my course, who studied conflicts on all those dimensions. 

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  15:46

This is interesting. I mean, it sounds like it’s a type of conflict that can apply, anywhere. The sense that I get is like, a lot of this is on recurring conflicts, like conflicts that just, you know, show what an example of some examples maybe of recurring conflicts just shows that like people can picture it


 Sure. Well, some classic ones are straight out of my book, one of them that runs throughout the book is the story about me and my mom. And it’s a conflict almost, it’s a little bit Seinfeldien that it’s, it’s almost about nothing. But it’s really about pain and loss and love. And she would complain that I didn’t call her often enough. And I would complain that here I am this young mother with young children and a career and juggling all of it, and how could I possibly always be available whenever she felt like picking up the phone and calling me and we were stuck in this blame, blame conflict loop. And so that’s one example. Another example is about people in an organizational setting. And the CEO is angry at his head of sales, because she is just so stubborn, and only cares about her compensation. And he can’t figure out how to get through to her that he needs to lower her compensation and she won’t budge, and he has no idea what to do. And they’re going around and around until they finally shut down. So they’re in kind of at different points, or at one point, they’re in a shutdown loop where they’re just not talking to each other. And this is not good for them and their relationship. And it’s also not good for the whole company, because no one can get anything done, who’s working with or around them. So those are a couple of examples of the ways that people get stuck in a family system. And in an organizational system. 

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  17:31

This is interesting. Like, you know, I think I can relate to one of those examples. But I guess my question is, how do you go about it? Like, I mean, I know that that’s the context of the whole book, what are some things that people can do?

Jennifer Goldman-Wetzler  17:48

Well, in the optimal outcomes method, there are eight practices that you can use practice, just like we were talking about before that asking nicely questions is a practice and that you almost as you noted, you can’t get better, you will get better just by asking those questions. So similarly, these eight practices just by practicing these things, you will get better and you will learn how to free yourself from conflict. The first practice is all about simply noticing the habit that you use when you’re stuck in conflict. And if people want a quick and easy way to diagnose their conflict habits, you can go to the website, optimal outcomes book.com/resources or slash assessment. And you’ll find the conflict habits quiz. And it takes like seven minutes to complete, it’s confidential, and it’s free. And it will tell you what your conflict habit is. And just knowing Are you know, do you tend to blame other people? Do you tend to blame yourself? Do you tend to shut down in the face of ongoing recurrent conflict or kind of counterintuitively, some people tend to relentlessly seek to collaborate with other people? And it’s in that relentless pursuit of collaboration that they get stuck because the other person is either in shutdown mode themselves or their conflict habit is to shut down or their complex habit is to blame. And when you have someone blaming you, or you have someone shutting down or blaming themselves, they’re not interested in collaborating with you. And so you’re stuck on that loop regardless of your overtures. So, it can be really helpful to just start with noticing where you are, and you know, anyone who has a mindfulness practice or maybe beginning of mindfulness practice, this is a great opportunity to use that practice to just notice where and how are you stuck? That’s the first practice.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  19:46

Yeah, you know, I think that makes a lot of sense. Like just the terminology of conflict habit. I assume that everybody has conflict habits like there isn’t a person that you know is going to take this quiz. It’s going to involve and say you, you do not have any conflict habit.


I think that’s right. What I talked about in the book is our complex habits are developed based on what we learn from people around us, right? We’re not, we don’t necessarily come out of the womb, with our conflict habit ready to go. It’s how did we grew up, both in our family of origin and also things that we learned from teachers and parents and, or, you know, coaches, religious figures in our lives about what’s an appropriate way to deal with conflict. So we tend to default to one conflict habit, it is possible, I’m not going to deny that people that someone might not have, you know, two different habits that they tend to default to. But if you are honest with yourself, and the quiz will help you determine this, typically, we tend to fall back on one of these habits, when we get triggered. In particular, you know, this is how we respond or react

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  20:54

No,  it’s interesting, because like, in your background, you you’ve worked on negotiation. And this is a type like, when I think about negotiation, at least what comes to mind, it’s, it’s a lot about how you can, I don’t know, like, my perception is like you influencing the situation. But the way that you go about resolving conflict, this is in this new method is it’s focused on you. And it’s not a lot about the other person, how much of negotiation is like that?


I think, a lot more of it than we realize. And we are so focused on our society and our culture has been for 40 years of collaboration, research and practice, we’ve been so focused on our relationships with other people, and how to influence other people and get what we want from and out of other people, that we have overlooked our relationships with ourselves, and the work that we need to do internally inside of ourselves first, to even be in a place to have a productive conversation with anyone else. So often, once we’ve done the internal work, which these practices help you do, a conversation with someone else either becomes completely irrelevant and doesn’t need to happen at all. So you don’t need to force yourself to go have that difficult conversation you thought you were going to need to have or it becomes incredibly simple. And it’s a, you know, three-minute conversation instead of a seven-hour conversation, or six months, you know, long-drawn-out process. That’s the work.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  22:37

So it’s interesting, because like, you know, you might look at this and say, Well, it sounds like Jenna’s saying that you should just you should be the one who should change and like, let the other person almost win. But that’s not what you’re saying. You’re saying that. You’re saying like, I should be asking, What did I do to contribute to this situation? Because like, everybody does that, but nobody does the internal work to ask that question, right?


I mean, it’s all a matter of what do you see as the most effective way to go about things. So you could say to yourself, I think it would be more effective for them to change, right? So my mom is blaming me, and I think if she stopped, then I wouldn’t have a problem anymore. The only problem is, that is like the least efficient way to go through life. Because who do I have more control over myself, my mom, or myself or other people? I have a lot more control over myself, even though, as we were saying before, I mean, I don’t always have the greatest control over myself, either, right? I’m asking myself questions every night about how did I got triggered today? And how could I do better next time? What would I need to put in place to not get triggered in that same way? So I get triggered, as much as you know, as much as we all do. But learning how to not get triggered, is still going to be easier than my trying to convince the person that I’m negotiating with that they should stop being triggered.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  24:10

Oftentimes, in any conflict, you’re always doing something, even if you don’t think you are,  to contribute to that, that conflict. And even if you ultimately decide, you know, for whatever reason that you’re not going to make a change. You know, that’s not the point here. But even if you decide that just the work of like, asking the question of like, how am I contributing to this will probably lead you to realize some things again, like you said, maybe you shorten the amount of time it takes to resolve that conflict.


Also, we’re still really talking about the question of how did I get stuck and the self-reflection that the that even just learning? How did I get stuck? Does that require self-reflection? What I like to do is have people start in the place of notice, how did I get stuck? Then move to well, what can I do to break free from this pattern. So I’m going like this with my hands making a kind of a circle. Because it signifies to me that conflict pattern where we just keep going around and around in this cycle, where my conflict habit interacts with your conflict habit and get stuck in a pattern of interaction. So like blame, blame or blame, shut down, or blame relentlessly collaborate? And once we notice the dynamic that’s going on, by understanding what’s our conflict habit, we can take our best guess at what the other person or people that we’re involved in what their conflict habits might be. And then that’ll give us a sense of how we’re stuck on that conflict loop, then the next question to ask is, well, what could I do that would be different. Any action that you take, that would be different from the actions you’ve been taking in the past? That would be different from your habit. So if I’m stuck in blame, blame conflict loop, if I simply don’t blame so maybe I, I mean, a very obvious Easy One is I could apologize. Instead, I could call my mom and apologize, right? That’s gonna change the dynamic in that moment of our interaction, our conversation, if I apologize regularly, right, that would that that might accelerate a different pattern emerging. Or if I, you know, didn’t apologize. But I called her every day every morning and said, Mom, I’m just calling to tell you that I love you. Right, that would for sure. Break that initial blame, blame pattern of interaction. So it’s up to me to be able to put a break in that conflict pattern by doing something different than I’ve done before,

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  26:40

And so, how many times do you have to break the pattern?


A lot of times, and that’s why there is a whole chapter in the book dedicated to what I call a pattern-breaking path. So it’s not just one action, that’s going to get you out of this highly stuck loop, right, the loop has been going around and around. It’s been recurring for quite some time, sometimes weeks, sometimes months, sometimes years, sometimes decades. So the idea that you would take one action that’s going to free yourself, is not likely to happen, right. But if you build a pattern-breaking path, so you take surprising different actions that are not the same as you’ve been taking in the past, over time, one in front of the other, right, you’re going to make a difference in that situation, and you’re going to eventually find yourself at that optimal outcome that you have been looking for.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  27:36

[AD BREAK BEGINS] Hey, there. Just a quick note, before we move on to the next part, if you’re listening to this podcast, you’re probably already doing one on one meetings. But here’s the thing, we all know that one on one meetings are the most powerful, but at the same time, the most misunderstood concept in practice and management. That’s why we’ve spent over a year compiling the best information, the best expert advice into this beautifully designed 90 Plus page ebook. Now, don’t worry, it’s not a single-spaced font, you know, lots of tax. There are a lot of pictures. It’s nice, easily consumable information, we spent so much time building it. And the great news is that it’s completely free. So head on over to fellow dot app slash blog to download the Definitive Guide on one on ones. It’s there for you. We hope you enjoy it. And let us know what you think. And with that said, let’s go back to the interview. [AD BREAK ENDS]  This is interesting. I mean, we’re talking about the habit of conflict here. But a lot of these strategies probably apply to just bad habits. In general.


Yeah, absolutely. Any I mean, I know, habit building is all the rage right now. From James clears book on Atomic Habits to BJ Fogg and others who’ve written about habit Gretchen Rubin. I mean, there’s just a ton of great books out now about habit formation and habit change. Any of those books, any of those that thinking will for sure help you and a lot. I mean, what I love about the title atomic habits is that it is all about it echos the idea of the pattern-breaking path in that it’s simple steps, right? One the, of the foundational aspects of a pattern-breaking path, is that it’s a simple action that you take. And then another simple action that you take, and you make this chain of simple actions. And that’s what happened formation is also all about,

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  29:35

I guess one of the questions here is the uniform people who are listening and you know, maybe there’s someone on their team and there’s a conflict or someone in the organization that they have a conflict with, but what about people who you know, and maybe they exist out there who are thinking well, I don’t have like there’s any conflict out there that you know, I have to work so actively on to To resolve, like, what kind of like conflict does this apply to, I mean, they would be very obvious because like there’s, there’s a conflict and it’s painful. But is there a process of like, almost like discovering, and saying, like, actually, if I look at it this way, there is conflict, and I’ve just not been paying attention to it?

Jennifer Goldman-Wetzler  30:21

Well, the students in my course that I have taught at Columbia for a decade, are a great representation of all the different kinds of conflicts that this method applies to. So some students would come with a family conflict where they observe, their parents not getting along, and they’ve been stuck in the middle, or they are stuck in a conflict with a sibling, or with a step, sibling, or any number of different family conflicts going on. For other people, they come because they’re on the kind of another side of the spectrum, they come because they’re interested in looking at a global conflict, like a global phenomenon of a conflict. So you know, classic conflicts in the Middle East, or Africa, or Northern Ireland, places where people have been fighting for a very long time. And they’re interested in applying the method to those larger systems. Also, people come with conflicts that are happening at work. So with their managers, with their direct reports with their peers, it runs the gamut. And yes, some people have trouble even coming. So one of the assignments in the course is to think of a conflict that you would like to throughout the course apply the method to. And that way, it comes alive. And some people at the beginning of the course, really have trouble thinking of something, what I’ll typically do is sit and work with them and help them think about their lives, sometimes in a different way. So, you know, one time I was working with a student whose parents had gotten divorced when she was two years old. And at that point, she was in graduate school, one of her sisters was about to get married, the other one was having a first baby. And she realized that there were these milestone moments in their lives where they would want their parents to come together. But the parents had not spoken in many years and were bitter towards each other. And she hadn’t even thought of that as an example. Because it was something she lived with her whole life. It was like she was a fish just swimming in this pool of conflict her whole life that it hadn’t even struck her as well. There’s conflict right there. And so once she began to choose that, and first of all notice it like we were talking about before, just to simply notice that that was a conflict that she was swimming in, she was able to start to work with it and to look at what is her role currently? Or what was her role currently in that family system? And what role would she like to play to see if there was some way she could carve out space for herself and for her sisters, to have interactions around the milestones that were coming up for them in their lives that would be meaningful and beautiful, and not? Have them all be living in fear that they’re one or both parents were going to ruin their those milestones

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  33:16

So in your opinion, like how much of this is I mean, it makes all the sense in the world, especially for recurring conflicts. How valuable is this for conflicts that just, you know, arise and are maybe like one time in nature and not because they wouldn’t be more than one time, but maybe just like the circumstances of like certain people coming together just leads to a one time conflict?


Right. This method is not designed to be helpful in those situations. In those situations, I would recommend a book called Getting to Yes, or even difficult conversations. Those are for basic negotiations. And, you know, hard conversations that people need to have. This is like conflict 2.0. This is like you’ve tried all the best methods that you know, that are out there. In collaborative negotiation, you’ve used all your best skills, and yet nothing has worked. That’s what the optimal outcomes method is designed to help now for sure, you know, a beginner who has never thought about conflict who’s never thought about negotiation, if you pick up the book, optimal outcomes, it’s an easy read. It’s a fun read. There are the stories throughout about Bob and Sally, the salesperson and the CEO that I talked about earlier about me and my mom, and just a kazillion more examples and stories. So it’s interesting. And there are for sure things that people would get out of it. And it is designed for that kind of really tough ones that you’ve been kind of banging your head up against the wall and can’t seem to figure out

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  34:47

One of the I guess, like, other topics that you also talk about is just this concept of like conflict mapping. What is conflict mapping?

Jennifer Goldman-Wetzler  34:56

It’s a way to graphically depict the situation that you find yourself in. So this is again, this is the second practice in the method in the set of practices. And it does have to do with looking backwards or looking at where you stand today. And it is unbelievable to me, I’ve given people two minutes to do this practice, where what you do is you take your pen on a blank piece of paper, or you know, on your screen, and you write down the names of the people who are involved in the situation. And then you challenge yourself to ask yourself, what challenge yourself to say, who else is involved here, and what else is at stake here, what issues are at stake here, what events might have occurred that are involved here in some way, and you’re going to throw it all down on a piece of paper, and then you draw some circles around the names and the events. And then you use simple lines to show how the people and the events are connected, and the issues are connected. And you can be creative. So use colours, I’ve seen people you know, have keys to their map, showing different colours and hearts and x’s to show relationships that are not great, and hearts to show relationships that are doing well. And oh, all kinds of things. And just doing that practice can be. so eye-opening. It’s pretty incredible to watch. And it does not as I said, it does not take a very long time. Or you can have it be as short or as long as you want. But literally, take two minutes and just draw it out. And you can notice nuances in the situation that can become levers for change that you just weren’t able to notice before you wrote your map, or drew your map.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  36:48

Yeah, you know, this is interesting. Like, can you apply some of these same things to say teams that tend to have a conflict with each other within an organization?

Jennifer Goldman-Wetzler  36:59

Absolutely. Take your team, draw out how people are interacting with each other. You could even write down for yourself what you think each person on your team what their conflict habit might be, right? So this person’s conflict habit has relentlessly collaborated and that person is blamed. And the other person is self, you know, blame themselves? And then see how are people interacting? It’ll help elucidate for you what’s going on. Sometimes you’ll have a team where, you know, people share the same complex habit. I think there are a lot of teams, I know there are a lot of teams out there where there’s, you know, relentlessly collaborate, everyone on the team is just trying to relentlessly collaborate with everyone else. And it’s just like, hey, we can’t get anything done. Because we’re constantly trying to get like full buy-in on everything. No one’s ever making a decision. Or you know, blame, blame, blame, blame, blame, but we’re all blaming each other, and we’re not getting anything done, because we’re stuck in blame instead of looking forward. So that can be a really interesting exercise to do as well. You could also have your whole team, you know, take the online quiz, see how people come out and then use that as a conversation starter.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  38:02

So in a situation like this, where you’re in a leadership position, and you know, you’ve read the book, tried some of these methods, and now you have two people on your team that has one of these perpetual complexes. What should your net-like? Can you use it? Like? Can you resolve the conflict? It seems like it’s a lot of work potentially, for some of these things like this is very purposeful work and you’re working on yourself internally like is the best thing to do is to teach each one of the people in the conflict to go do these things? Or can you? Like, what would you recommend for leaders who are observing a constant conflict, say, between two people?

Jennifer Goldman-Wetzler  38:44

I think there are several different ways that a leader could go about things, probably the simplest and easiest, quickest way to begin would be if you see yourself as a facilitator of dialogue of the other people on your team. And you have two people, as you’ve said, let’s say they’re two people on your team who were, you know, at each other’s throats and not getting along. So you could have a one on one with one of them use your best judgment about who you think is the right person, to begin with. So maybe one criterion to use is who is the most self-reflective and open to your feedback in general. And you could go to that person. And you could use a different one of the practices that we haven’t talked about yet, which is called Shadow values, looking at your ideal values and looking at your shadow values. And the power of helping people understand what their shadow values are, and also ask themselves what might other people’s shadow values be, is that so often, what’s driving our own and other people’s behaviour are things that we truly value in life, but that we would never in 1000 years admit to anyone that we care about. And so these are things like status, power control, recognition, particularly in organizational life. These are not things that we tend to be you know, hey, I care about my status here, will you please recognize me, you know, for a job well done, you could go to one person and help them understand what might be driving their behaviour here that is difficult to talk about, this may not be the simplest, this is kind of this is a very going through the unconscious process here. So, this is not necessarily simple. But it’s simple in the sense of you go to one person and have a conversation with that person and help them understand what might be driving themselves, even help them raise their empathy for what the other person may be going through, or maybe coming from, right, so often, even the mapping or you could help that person just map it out, right, you could almost pick any one of these practices out of this book, mapping it out as a great place to start the habits, complex habits, you could have the person take an assessment, and then come to you and have a conversation about what they learned from doing that assessment, right? It’s like a fun, easy thing to do. Or you could start with the values work and ask them, you know, what do they see? The other person might be up against that, that they’d hadn’t noticed before you ask them that question, right? Maybe that other person who has a really hard home life is going through a divorce or has a sick child or any number of things that could be causing the person to be responding in a way that you don’t want them to be. But you can at least, you may not be happy about how they’re responding. But you can at least now understand it a little bit better.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  41:29

Yeah. And by getting them to do any of the like any of the exercises like he said, I think it just brings a level of awareness of the situation that, you know, perhaps with that additional awareness, like the conflict can better be resolved. And it’s an I think, like, I mean, as you said, most of us approach these things as it’s, you know, we must change the other person. But just having that kind of almost like a culture of, you know, what is each one of us doing to contribute to this conflict? And if everybody went through that, I think, well, a, you’d have less conflict, to begin with. But yeah, I mean, you can solve these things a lot more quickly. One question I wanted to ask was that you know, you’ve come across a lot of people trained a lot of folks. In your experience, like, what have you seen, like the world’s best negotiators? Like? What like, what is it that they do? Like, if you point out, say one thing, one thing that they do that makes them effective at negotiating? What do you think that is? Or what trait?

Jennifer Goldman-Wetzler  42:37

Well, I have to say two things. And the first one is self-awareness. And the second one is putting themselves in the other person’s shoes. Just like we were talking about asking yourself, what might this other person’s shadow values be? What might be driving them that I know nothing about? Or I know very little about, they maybe have given me a clue. But putting myself in their shoes and even asking the question, where might they be coming from that, you know, is a really important skill that without your self-awareness, can be sometimes a problem because we don’t want to over-empathize with other people. If we don’t understand what emotions we are experiencing, we can sometimes actually project our own emotions onto other people. And so if we feel sad or frustrated or upset, we might think that they are feeling those things. That’s how psychology works. And so we want to own what’s going on for ourselves and be able to know it for the inside of ourselves, and then be able to express it to other people, while at the same time having that ability to cross over into what might be going on in someone else’s experience by asking them questions. And wondering and being curious about what could be possibly going on for them?

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  43:49

Yeah, no, that that’s a very, very interesting observation. And I think it ties back to everything else that we’ve been talking about. You certainly talked to me about a lot of different things, and certainly talked about the conflict in a way that I don’t think we’ve ever talked about on the show before. So this is interesting. You know, I urge people to check out the book. And they can find it, what was their website URL one more time? It’s optimal outcomes. book.com. Awesome. And we’ll, of course, include that in the show notes. One final question that we like to ask all the guests on the show is like for all the managers constantly looking to get better at their craft? Are there any tips, tricks or parting words of wisdom that you would leave them with?

Jennifer Goldman-Wetzler  44:36

Yes, two things. Number one, on a very practical note, when you go to the website, optimal outcomes book.com If you go to the resources section, so or optimal outcomes book.com/resources You’ll find a ton of free resources that walk you through step by step, each one of the practices, each one of the eight practices and so it’s like a little mini-course and Book in and of itself, a workbook. So I hope people will have fun and enjoy and use them for themselves, use them for the people who report to you use them with, with peers, whatever it takes, whatever is helpful to you. They’re all totally free and easily accessible PDF files, the thing that’s, you know, today in today’s world, so we’re recording this in early 2022. And there’s so much talk about the great resignation and people being burnt out. And the thing that I just sent an email out to my email lists this morning about is rest and the power of being taking rest and needing to claim rest. It’s not something I quote, a book with the title rest by Alex Pang, where he says, rest is not given. It is taken. And we need to, you know, I have in my words are winning to claim rest for ourselves, because probably no one’s gonna walk up to you and say, Hey, would you like to, you know, take take a short nap? Would you like to take a vacation? Would you like to take Friday off this week, you got to claim it for yourself. And I believe that, that claiming that rest is the way that we are going to navigate most successfully and build the new world that we know we all want to see. And also, you know, free ourselves from these conflicts, it’s pretty easy to get triggered. And I was just talking with a client earlier this morning. How easy it is to get triggered when we are not well-rested, and how much harder it is to be triggered emotionally when we are well-rested. So please, I hope people will give yourself permission to take a break and give yourself a timeout and take some rest in 2022.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  46:52

That’s great advice and a great place to end it. Jen, thanks so much for doing this.

Jennifer Goldman-Wetzler  46:57

Thank you so much, Aydin it’s been a total pleasure and delight to be in conversation with you.

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