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27th September 2021



My wife refers to the TV in our conservatory as the ‘green screen’. Not that we are a family of film makers or special effects experts, the label ‘green screen’ is simply an observation made towards the amount of sport that seems to appear on it.

Football and rugby pitches on the whole, a cricket wicket from time to time, always a lawn tennis court for two weeks a year and sometimes even a snooker table beamed live from Sheffield. Myself along with the other young men in the house tend to gravitate to the back of the house to watch the action. We are certainly more inclined to tune in if the reds of Liverpool or the Chiefs of Exeter are involved.

It is important at this point to be able to confirm that no remote controls have been thrown in conservatory’s in Westclyst with reference to sport viewing levels, but this light hearted scenario resonated and prompted me to write about the topic of ‘CONFLICT’.

Despite attempts to argue the accuracy of this observation, I feel that I would be wrong to refute it altogether. After all, I can’t deny the in-print I seemed to have hollowed into the sofa that fits me perfectly, but “always on”, I’d have to disagree!

Conflict resolution features heavily in the work that I do with couples and families; also in the workplace when working with companies exploring group dynamics. When differing viewpoints and perceptions are placed upon the same experience, misunderstanding can occur. Our own viewpoint can feel lost, ignored or overlooked, sometimes dominated. Our viewpoint can feel worthless, we can feel wronged and not heard despite the fact that this is ‘how we see things’.

Conflict can arrive suddenly, dramatically, in a flash, in an instant; or it can build slowly over time, dripping like a tap, gradually grinding away.

 In both instances there is a tipping point. A point that brings the differing viewpoints out into the open for the first time.

How do you air conflict in its first instance?

 I see through my work that it is at this point of any conflict that levels of emotion are at their highest. The intense feeling of anger, frustration, stress, annoyance, anxiety, confusion pouring out in a frenzied opportunity to air the unsaid, a chance to say ‘how it is!’….. FOR YOU.

The same can be said for personal levels of REACTIVITY. The emotion felt when the perception or viewpoint of another party contradicts, disagrees, undermines or belittles our own. The feelings we feel when we hear ‘how it is’…… FOR THEM.

My work has taught me that during the same period of time, our ability to HEAR the opposite viewpoint or perception is at its lowest. We are resistant to taking on board THEM, we are only interested in OURSELF.

It is the management of our levels of REACTIVITY that will determine the outcome of the conflict we find ourselves in. Our ability to not only communicate our own thoughts and feelings but to also HEAR and process another’s is the essential ingredient to a successful resolution.

 Easily typed Matt, incredibly challenging to do, magnificently powerful when experienced.

Conflict resolution requires the courage to knowingly enter this arena fully prepared for the uncomfortable initial tennis rally of contradicting perceptions to be aired. At first, conflict resembles a tennis match, between two players, playing with two balls at the same time, both hitting unreturned shots to an opponent not in the same game.

As cathartic and cleansing as it is to serve your own viewpoint, the learned art of receiving one, hearing one, processing one and THEN reacting to one will significantly increase the chances of a considered reply. When replies are thought through with managed levels of reactivity a rally of considered viewpoints can take place. Both players hitting the same ball back and forth. It doesn’t prevent the occasional shot being stuff into the net or indeed a John McEnroe moment from time to time, but the game is a much better one to be involved in.

The initially daunting arena, with time AND support can become a safe place to soften the polar opposite start points, bringing them closer together, to gain a truer representation of how things actually are and with it a start point of middle ground upon which future decision can be made.

  • Decisions together.
  • Decisions apart.
  • Agree to agree.
  • Agree to disagree.

Using the ‘GREEN SCREEN’ scenario as our example, I know that it would be fair to say that myself and my wife would both know (and agree upon) that the TV is NEVERALWAYS GREEN. It would simply be wrong to be able to say that all that was ever on the TV was only ever sport. After all, I have noticed the occasional episode of Homeland and Masterchef on it from time to time!! However, it would also be fair to say that we both know that the TV is NEVER‘NEVER GREEN’, last nights EFL Cup matches would act as proof for that.

Immediately, mine and Julie’s polar opposite spectrum of ALWAYS and NEVER ever so slightly move towards a truer centre point. Softer observations of:

  • A LOT

I guess (with reflection) I would lean away from the term ‘ALWAYS’ and feel happier with the use of ‘SOMETIMES’, Julie may see (with reflection) ALWAYS as OFTEN.

I’d take on the chin quite happily, OFTEN, probably accept A LOT.

Julie may tend to agree with FREQUENTLY, possibly accept SOMETIMES.



By taking a non-reactive stance in the rally of ‘how it is’ is most helpful during times of conflict.

My random, light-hearted example of how a TV screen in my house is perceived is not to read flippantly, but more so as an example of how an everyday occurrence can build to cause conflict.

That conflict can arrive when perceptions don’t align.

That conflict can escalate if inaccurate dialogue is used and inaccurate start points are established and maintained.

That conflict CAN be resolved. When emotion is recognised and heard and reactivity is managed.

That conflict is not always SERIOUS, it can be funny, it can be enjoyed, it can make you laugh.

Are you in conflict? At home? At work? In a relationship? With family?

Would exploring conflict in a safe supportive space be helpful to establishing the now to create a fruitful future?

I can help.

Please feel free to contact me at:

Take care,



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