Conflict Resolution :: Perception Frustration + What to Do About It

Conflict Resolution Perception Frustration

When frustration and conflict are on the rise, chances are your own perception is a good place to start looking for answers.

When we take responsibility for our own misperceptions, we can diffuse a frustration or conflict before it spirals out of control. Even if it is out of control already, a perception-check is a first-stop on the road to conflict resolution.

In the first blog post of this series—on Conflict Management and Emotional Templates—we learned just how influential the intangible and emotional factors are as we form thoughts and behaviors around our relationships. In fact, the “templates” we create in our relationships at work among colleagues or even at home among family are based on 70% intangible criteria.

As such, the perceptions that we have about the people around us are often also grounded in our emotional and intangible interpretation of their behavior.

We make up some really great stories to describe their behavior, and most often they are…really wrong. {A truth I learned in early management through Crucial Confrontations}.

Instead of the {inaccurate} story, what if we start by taking responsibility for our own perceptions. When we assume the best and start with our own lenses, a healthy foundation for conflict resolution is formed.

bring need fullest

What is Perception Frustration?

Let’s define Perception Frustration by starting with a little story near and dear to my heart.

Take the Suitcase Incident…

When we get home from a trip, we are hardly through the door before David starts unzipping the suitcase and begins unpacking it—sorting out dirty clothes from clean, dolling toothbrushes back to their homes, filling the closet back up with shoes.

It used to drive me crazy. He was so impatient and impulsive. Couldn’t he just wait until we peeled off our coats or took a deep breath??

Until, one day, I realized it was my own perception that was driving me crazy…not his actions.

The Suitcase Incident highlights one of his most defining talents…Activator. He’s a starter and a quick actor. He ignites the unpacking situation until all of a sudden, it’s done. {And we can enjoy the rest of our evening without digging through dirty laundry to find our toothbrushes}.

StrengthsFinder Perception Frustration Conflict Toothbrushes

What I perceived as impulsive {misperception}, he was actually using as a catalyst for settling back in {reality}.

This is Perception Frustration—conflict whose source is found {at least partially} in the perception of the viewer of the aggravating behavior.

The Impact of Understanding Perception Frustration

The concept and action of Perception Frustration can make a significant impact on both your ability to resolve conflict and your ability to dissolve conflict.

Resolve Conflict

By exploring the root of Perception Frustration, we become better equipped for resolving conflict.

When the focus is reflective instead of presumptive, and the position is questioning over condemning, our effectiveness during tough conversations skyrockets.

We arrive at a critical conversations, ready to talk about talent — perhaps even misdirected or over-used talent — and our perception of the situation, instead of ready with accusations and assumptions.

It can be a miracle worker in resolving conflict sparked by perception.

Dissolve Conflict

Perhaps even more significantly, the concept of Perception Frustration has the power to dissolve conflict—as was the case in The Suitcase Incident above.

By checking our perceptions, we give the conflict an opportunity to dissolve on its own.

When the emotions and stories are spinning, the practice of exploring perceptions often reverses the spin. Run our perceptions through a talent-filter and assume the best of the people working or living with us, and sometimes the conflict that was bubbling dissolves completely.

In the Suitcase Incident, the behavior that was grating on me dissolved completely when I checked my own perception and saw not aggravation but talent instead.

Maven Insights Inbox

How to Manage Your next Perception Frustration

While simple, an honest perception check and follow-on conversation are not ever easy—especially when emotions are on the rise.

For a quick tool in beginning these still tricky conversations, consider these two practical actions in your next conflict:

1 :: Do a thorough perception check

  • What are the patterns of thought or feeling behind the behavior that is causing conflict?
  • What “good” can come of these same behaviors in a different situation?
    • or when used differently?
    • or when understood differently?

2 :: Converse with Positive Intent

When you have identified the talent and recognize the influence of your own perception, does it dissolve on its own? Is it still an issue?

If you see the talent and it is still getting in the way, consider a template like this:

  • My perception of your XX Strength is…
  • BUT I see how it could really add….
  • So let’s work together to…{OR So I am going to….}

Here’s an example to get your mind going about your own perception conversation:

My perception is that your Responsibility Strength is somewhat overbearing and feels that you don’t trust me, but I see how that could really add an ability to follow through and keep us on track.

So, let’s work together to create a good timeline before we start a project, so that we both have the freedom to know when you’ll be checking in and the knowledge that I’ll be working on before each timeline point.

Give it a try the next time conflict is bubbling and Perception Frustration is on the rise. Make an honest assessment, internal reflection, and {if needed} a loving and open approach to conversation and see how far it gets you to resolve or dissolve that conflict.



Links & Resources from today

Also catch the Conflict Resolution series on Audio + Video, on the Isogo TV Podcast, Episodes 62-67 {with added resources}!
Discover your Top 5 Strengths with StrengthsFinder + Strengths Startup

9 Steps to Life-change {FREE Checklist}
{9 Steps} to Life Change through your StrengthsFinder Top 5 Strengths
Conflict Resolution :: Influence of Emotional Templates
Does your Marriage need a new beginning? This is what ours looked like.
Crucial Confrontations by Tom Peters


The Strengths-perspective can impact your marriage, your parenting, and your work!

If you’re into it or you’re just not so sure about it all, reach out, and let’s connect about it. You can catch me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, all at @isogostrong, by this handy contact form, or in our Energy Up Frustration Down facebook group.

Enjoy your day, and {be strong}!

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