April 3

Battling with Your Ex? Karen Knab’s Secrets to Winning at Conflict

Episode Description

Karen Knab is not your average executive coach - she's a master at transforming conflict into constructive dialogue. Whether navigating the choppy waters of family drama or the boardroom's fierce currents, Karen's expertise helps you take back control and resolve your arguments with your ex, your kids, or your boss, more amicably.

Karen has cracked the code on managing the emotions that sabotage clear communication. Through her riveting stories and step-by-step strategies, you'll discover how to hit the pause button when you’re mired in a heated discussion so you can steer the conversation toward common ground.

From power struggles with your teenage son, to butting heads with a difficult colleague, to arguing with your ex, Karen's four-question formula will help you defuse even thorny conflicts with ease.

Show Notes

About Karen

Karen Knab is an executive leadership coach and conflict resolution expert. Her coaching focuses on turning ANY business owner into a confident and assertive leader, whether they lead people directly, or indirectly as solopreneurs. She also provides targeted conflict resolution services within leadership teams and business partnerships. She is also a former Marriage and Family Therapist and has walked through the divorce process with many clients.

Connect with Karen

You can connect with Karen on LinkedIn at Karen Knab or on Facebook at Karen Knab.  You can learn more about working with Karen on her website Karen Knab and book a complimentary discovery call here.

Key Takeaways From This Episode with Karen

  • Karen Knab grew up in a family that required conflict resolution skills due to sharing resources, as well as participating in the AmeriCorps program that involved living communally and developing leadership abilities.
  • She then transitioned into becoming a marriage and family therapist, where she worked extensively on helping couples and families navigate conflicts. More recently, she has focused on executive leadership coaching and conflict resolution in business settings.
  • The conversation covers strategies for dealing with conflict avoidance, preparing for difficult conversations through role-playing, identifying the root issues underlying conflicts, repairing conflicts through authentic apologies, and developing a culture that allows for open and vulnerable communication.
  • Key insights include the importance of being able to recognize when you are too emotionally "activated" to have a productive conversation, taking breaks to calm down, practicing conversations in advance, getting clear on what specific changes you want from the other party, and taking responsibility for your role in conflicts.
  • The underlying message is that interpersonal skills and conflict resolution abilities can be learned and applied across various contexts like the workplace, marriage, and parenting. Building trust and being willing to be vulnerable are critical for repairing and strengthening relationships when conflicts inevitably arise.
  • Preparing effectively for difficult conversations through role-playing, identifying the key issues/behavior that is problematic, understanding how it affects you, what you want instead, and what actions you can take.
  • Creating a culture of trust and vulnerability, whether in a marriage or workplace, to allow for deeper and more constructive conflict resolution. Techniques like sincere apologies are highlighted.
  • The underlying skills of interpersonal communication, emotional intelligence, and taking responsibility for your role in conflict can be learned, even if not taught traditionally. Mastering these skills strengthens all types of relationships.

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Locked in Battle with Your Ex? Karen Knab's Secrets to Winning at Conflict


conflict resolution, relationships, leadership


Karen Covy, Karen Knab

Karen Covy Host00:10

Hello and welcome to Off the Fence, a podcast where we deconstruct difficult decision making so we can discover what keeps us stuck and, more importantly, how we can get unstuck and start making even tough decisions with confidence. I'm your host, Karen Covey, a former divorce lawyer, mediator and arbitrator, turned coach, author and entrepreneur. And now, without further ado, let's get on with the show.

With me today I have Karen Knab, and Karen is an executive and leadership coach and conflict resolution expert. Her coaching focuses on turning any business owner into a confident and assertive leader, whether they lead people directly or indirectly as solopreneurs. Karen also provides targeted conflict resolution services within leadership teams and business partnerships. She's also a former marriage and family therapist and has walked through the divorce process with many clients. Karen, welcome to the show.

Karen Knab Guest01:15

Thanks, Karen, it's great to be here especially with another, Karen.

Karen Covy Host01:18

I know I was going to say you just can't forget your name, right? You know your backstory fascinates me, so I'd like to start there, if that's okay with you, and say what led you into marriage and family therapy and then from there into executive leadership coaching. It doesn't seem like it would be a likely transition. So if you want to, you know, just talk a little bit about that. Start wherever you want to start.

Karen Knab Guest01:46

Yeah, so my current work focuses both on executive leadership, coaching, as well as conflict resolution, and so I have a lot of experiences in both of those arenas. So I'll start with the conflict resolution piece. I mean, I grew up in a family with three siblings and we had to share a lot of things, you know, back in the 70s and 80s and 90s, and sharing was a big deal. We had to watch division together, we had to share the phone, all that stuff. So I had to learn conflict resolution just from growing up in that environment. But then one of the major turning points of my that I would say my life was after college. I signed up to be part of a program. It was through the AmeriCorps program, which is like the Peace Corps in America, and it was in the early late 90s and I was meant to go up and volunteer for a year.


But I was in a co-living situation with multiple other members of this AmeriCorps group and so we lived together. There was 19 people living together Whoa, whoa, right. And so I mean I, we were all just sort of like stymie, like what is going on? How are we going to do this? And some people were better at it than others in terms of working together, and what stood out to me was I had both a leadership bent and I was naturally a leader and I also tried to dominate too much. And so in that experience with all those other folks, I was able to sort of reel that, in getting feedback from multiple people about how to work together, we had to do, you know, essentially split up chores, cleaning, cooking we had, we did, socializing together. I mean, we just, you know, had had great time but we didn't have a lot of money because we were essentially all volunteering in a way, but that was huge. We also learned something called the Enneagram together, which is a personality typing tool, and that also really helped me see that the way I see the world is different than how lots of other people see the world, and so that is something that I repeat over and over and over again when I'm teaching and educating my clients, whether it's individual clients or in teams, when I'm helping them navigate conflict is that people see the world differently and we have different priorities, we have different motives, we have different histories, and that makes it so that we see different situations in our own ways and we need to be understanding of that. So from that point on, things really moved in the direction of I wanted people to live in a more harmonious way, I mean, whether it's in their workplaces and in their family. So my next trajectory from there was to go into graduate school for marriage and family therapy, and that was where I took it seriously that I wanted to really work on conflict and helping couples and families navigate conflict, and so I've been a marriage and family therapist. I'm actually still licensed. I've been at this work for 18 years and that has been a really.


I've had hundreds, if not thousands, of meetings with folks, whether it's in groups or individually based, and so, like I said, I also had this leadership bent from a very young age as well, and I was able to develop that in different environments too, as a clinician.


So I was elevated to a leadership role in one of the mental health clinics that I worked at and I was able to develop essentially their HR program, working with, you know, bringing people in, letting them go, training them in the meantime all of those things that help us understand why businesses, you know, can have lower turnover and higher efficiency. So I have both aspects of both leadership and conflict resolution in my background and so the coaching work has come about in the past three years or so where I have wanted to basically take my work into the business setting and essentially to have a bigger impact. It's not like I have anything happened or there's anything wrong with therapy. It's more just having a new challenge and speaking to a different audience and really elevating leaders and helping them see that leadership skills are not something that they maybe have naturally come across, something that they have to develop, and it's not. You know, they could be great business strategists and things like that, but leadership and interpersonal skills are something totally different altogether.

Karen Covy Host06:32

Yeah, I think conflict resolution interpersonal skills, as you put it is. It's so important in a variety of contexts, right? If you don't have those skills at home, your marriage starts to suffer, and if you don't have those skills at work, your work relationship starts to suffer. Or you can't be as effective as effective of a leader if you can't resolve conflict right. So how do you help people? Let's say, somebody's got their conflict avoidant, okay.


So they don't because I know a lot of people come to me and they want to be amicable. They don't want to fight, not because, you know, for no other reason, the fact that they just don't like fighting. They just they're very adverse to conflict. But conflict is everywhere in life, right? So how do you go about helping a client who's saying I just don't, I don't want to fight. You know, can't we just let this go? What would you say to them and how do you work with them so that they become more comfortable with conflict?

Karen Knab Guest07:39

Well, I think conflict avoidant people, creating as they are on the outside, they're often very misunderstood, and they're actually misunderstood to themselves as well. So when I walk through people with people to help them develop some awareness, oftentimes they'll identify with the desire to they don't wanna make a conflict worse, so that's why they shut down. And they're not able to say that, and they're maybe not even able to know that internally. But when I say that to them, like does that resonate with you? They always say yes, yeah, I just don't say anything because I don't know. I think I'm gonna say the wrong thing and then it's just gonna get worse. So they're trying to stop the conflict in an effective way.


But their intentions are good, and so when I work with people, I explain to them that shutting down or going quiet oftentimes is sort of a learned behavior and I normalize hey, maybe you never saw positive examples of conflict resolution growing up, as if there's very likely that you didn't have that. And so of course you think either or we have to argue this out till the bitter end, or we just have to walk away, and there's no in between. And so there's a lot of people who don't wanna argue things to the bitter end. And so instead they're saying, well, my other option is to just shut down, and they think that's helping, and to some degree it is in the short term, but certainly not long term. So really just normalizing that their experiences make sense. But then also that there is this middle ground where, hey, there's another way to resolve conflict that actually works, where both people can feel good about it. It feels like a win-win.


And then that leads into this whole other piece around education, around assertive communication and how to kind of manage your own internal worlds that you're not either shutting down or getting too upset, and so those are skills that I work with people on a regular basis. So things like noticing inside when you're in a calm place versus when you're not in a calm place. It's really hard for us to have effective, assertive conversations when we're not in a calm place. Our brain's just not working very well and it doesn't help us. So helping people even track that for themselves Am I in the right place to be having this conversation or am I too activated? Nine times out of 10, people are just too activated and they don't even realize it, so those conversations go off the rail. So even just that tip alone to allow people to take a time out for themselves or wait until they're in a better place in a calmer place can be super helpful for helping them have a more effective conversation.


So that's just the beginning. If we can't start a conversation, we're not even gonna get to the meat of it, right? So even that is something that people don't even realize.

Karen Covy Host10:39

What do you mean when you say people are too activated? Can you explain that a little bit?

Karen Knab Guest10:46

Without going into too much detail about the brain, there's two parts of the brain that are at play when we are communicating with other people. There's the prefrontal cortex, which is the front part of our brain. It helps us make decisions and be rational. And then there's the back part of our brain called the amygdala, which is back near the brainstem and that helps us stay safe from danger, and it's pretty primitive. It doesn't really go through thoughts or weighing options, it just reacts. And so when we are activated, it's because there's something around us that's making us feel unsafe or worried or angry or upset, and that back part is activated, which, in a quick version, shuts down the front part. So when we're too activated, we're actually not coming from a thinking perspective. We're not able to think through and be wholly rational on some of these conversations. So taking a break can help calm down that amygdala, turn this part back on so that we can think through.


And clients will often say I feel like two different people. I remember what I said. I said some crazy things. I don't know why I said that. I don't know why I said that. Yeah, because when they're calmer, when they're talking to me, they're rethinking it and they're going, I would say something totally different. That's not what I meant, and so I also help explain that to people, because then it helps them take some of the shame away around. You're not crazy, you're not a bad person. You just were too activated and you didn't recognize it and you didn't know that you needed to calm down Before you could reengage this prefrontal cortex.

Karen Covy Host12:32

Yeah, and by the way, there is no brain science. That's too geeky for me. I like, I love. I just go crazy for all of this stuff.

Karen Knab Guest12:42


Karen Covy Host12:42

I tell people to, and I think I language it a little bit differently. Okay, bottom line is when your emotions are running high and all of the stress hormones are flooding your brain, you can't think clearly and that's not the time to try to have a conversation when you're actually trying to solve a problem or have a conversation. That's going to be a more difficult conversation to have. Right, there's conflict, it's not going to be easy. You don't want to have that conversation when you're feeling triggered. I think that's kind of the word that's used that most people are more familiar with. That. Their emotions are triggered and now they can't think clearly. So let's say somebody finds themself in this state that they approach a conversation and For what? Whatever it is in the conversation triggers them and they're just there. You know bells and whistles are going off and they can't think clearly. What can they do to calm themselves down so that they can get their pre far pre frontal cortex back online and Start thinking and acting more in line with who they really are?

Karen Knab Guest13:54

So this is an example of like good, better, best solution. So the best solution would be able to take an actual break and give your brain 15-20 minutes to settle itself down, right, so if you can take a walk, if you can listen to some music, if you can even Call a friend just to kind of help yourself settle down, that's ideal. But if that's not possible, better would be Taking a break. Go to the bathroom, right, I just, I just, I'm just going to get a snack, you know, just getting away for just a few minutes. And if you can't even do that, a good, a good enough response is to focus on your breathing, is to take some deep breaths. You can do that anywhere, even if you're still in a meeting. You can shift your breath, and the breath is really important


When we are hyperventilating, we all know what that feels like. We're sort of breathing out of our chest, where it's short, it actually makes us feel worse, we feel more anxious, we feel more unsettled. So doing the opposite where you're breathing deep down into the diaphragm, you're taking deeper breaths that sends a different signal to your brain. It sends a signal to your brain that you're, that, everything's okay, we're okay. You're almost tricking your brain in that moment and it does change your body's physiology so that you do start to feel more settled. So any one of those combinations, depending on the situation that you're in. Like I said, if you're in a meeting, you can't leave, but you notice yourself feeling, you know, hotter and hotter In a lot of ways, whether it's with your mood or you're sweating. Taking those deep breaths can definitely help, taking a sip of water, anything like that. But if you do have a little more time, separating yourself all together for a few minutes or even longer, are all good ways to help settle your brain.

Karen Covy Host15:48

So let's say that you, there's somebody, and whether they're about to go into what they're expecting to be kind of difficult or conflictual business meeting or a situation at home with their spouse, you know they've got to deal with an issue that they know is going to be touchy. It's probably not going to go easy, you know. So somebody is getting ready to go into those situations. Do you have any tips for what they can do themselves to prepare so that they're more effective in the conversation? Mm-hmm.

Karen Knab Guest16:25

So, just like we learned doing presentations in high school and college, practice is everything. I remember winging it in high school and never did that again because it was horrible, right. So if we try and wing these conversations and just go into them thoughtlessly, we're gonna have a problem. It's gonna be harder for us to stay on track because we are gonna be somewhat activated. So the best strategy that I offer to people is practice, practice, practice. Think through ahead of time what are my points, what do I want to get across, what am I asking for, what do I want to get accomplished? Writing it down, going through it.


One of the things that I do with clients all the time is role plays. So I'll pretend to be the other person and I'll offer multiple different responses, right. So say the person you know, you say what you need to say, and then the person responds you know well, they're really, you know, they're fine with it. Great, that's one response. What if they're sort of unconvinced? That's another response. What if they're actively defensive and argumentative? That's a third response.


So if we can practice those things together ahead of time, my clients always feel lots more confident in their ability to manage whatever comes at them, and they often will say you know, I this helped so much I didn't even think to do this. Or they didn't even, you know. Think about the fact that preparing like this would help them feel better and 100% of the time they at least feel that they have. They feel better than they would have if they hadn't done it. And it doesn't. It doesn't guarantee that they'll get a good response from the other person, because we can never guarantee something like that, but it's certainly. The tone of the conversation will be calmer and they'll be able to keep their wits about them more.

Karen Covy Host18:15

Yeah, I can so relate to this, because in the work that I do with clients, a lot of times one of the things that provokes the most anxiety is I want to divorce. How do I tell my spouse, how do I have that conversation? And they'll be petrified. And I know people who kick that can down the road for a very long time because they just can't bring themselves to do it. They don't want the conflict, they're all the things right, and I will do the same thing with them that you do, which is let's role play, and people are always worried about the words that they say.

Well, what if I forget. What if I write everything down and I haven't memorized and I go blank? What would you say when somebody is facing that situation? Do you tell them to actually write out everything that they're going to say and memorize it, or do you have different advice for them?

Karen Knab Guest19:17

So certainly both. I mean being able to talk it out and write it down so that they can review it. But really, what I go through with folks is it's essentially a four-step process and for a very simple problem. So when we go through it, it often solidifies what their actual agenda is, which helps them in the moment. So the first thing that I tell people is what are you actually upset about? What's the thing that happened, what's the behavior? So I was okay and then this thing happened, and now I don't. I'm not okay anymore.


So, identifying what's the actual behavior that the other person exhibited and again, this is for a very simple problem. So we'd have to sort of switch this a little bit for something more complex or chronic. So that's the first thing. Sometimes that's hard enough for people, right? I mean, they just know they don't like it, they don't like the person. Well, why not Right? So helping them do that.


The second part is well, how does it affect you? How does that make you feel Right? And having them identify a feeling not I feel like you are a jerk. You know, I feel frustrated, I feel worried, I feel upset. So helping them come up with what's happening for them. Why are they bothered by it? Because sometimes issues actually aren't their business, right, like, does it even affect you? Well, no, I'm just mad that they said something mean to my neighbor. Well, that's not really your business, that's your neighbor's business, right? So identifying is this even their business can be is useful, but is their business? We keep going. And then I asked them you know, what would you like instead? What's your theory around this? Or what's your expectation? How do you want their behavior to be different, moving forward? That can also be challenging to identify, but we'll come up with some strategies and brainstorm together and they'll figure they'll land on something that feels, that feels real to them.


And then the fourth step is and what am I going to do to help this situation happen? Or even a consequence, if there's a way to give a consequence. It's hard to give consequences to peers but, like, here's what I want, you know, here's how I'll help. I'll remind you of this conversation. That's even a concept, you know, that's even something you can do. So going through those four steps often solidifies the client's sort of agenda and they can kind of they can kind of, like you know, remind themselves based on where we talked about those different things. So it's not. They're not coming up with these things willy nilly, they're internalizing them, they're coming up with the ideas. So when it comes time to talk about it, it really is coming from them and they'll, they'll more often remember it.

Karen Covy Host22:01

It sounds like the same sort of methodology could be used in a personal conversation with a spouse or a child. I know a lot of parents have difficulty having these kinds of conversation with their kids because they're not easy conversations to have, right? So, whether you're talking about with children, with a spouse, with coworkers, am I wrong, am I getting it wrong that you could use the same, the same sort of four question format, or am I getting it right, like how does it play out?

Karen Knab Guest22:35

It's the same format for any interpersonal relationship, and I'll say that the difference is in that fourth piece. If there's a power differential so, like to your point about if you're a parent or a boss or some sort of manager you have more of an ability to come up with a consequence. So you can say if this behavior doesn't change, then this is going to happen. Right, as a parent or a boss, if you're not in a power dynamic, if you're a peer, you're at the same level as the other person, which is a partner, a spouse, a coworker.


You can't really implement a consequence. You can say you know, I'll keep reminding you of this. Or you can even say you know, I might remind, I'll have to tell our manager about this, right, if that's, that's another way to approach it. So there's always something you can offer to say yeah, I really want to keep this on track, I really want to move forward with this, I really do want to resolve this, and that's the most productive way of resolving a conflict is to offer a solution at the end, and that's. You know we can talk more about that too, and you know that's really important actually.

Karen Covy Host23:41

Well, yeah, I think, because a lot of times when I'm talking with people, you know they know they're upset, but then when you get to the question of, well, what do you want the other person to do about it, what, how do you, what do you want changed, what do you want to see, what do you want to have happen, you know, then at that point you get the sort of blank stare and they don't know, and that that becomes problematic, because if you're asking somebody to just do something and make you feel better, your chances of them actually doing that are very slim because they don't know what you're talking about. Because you don't know what you're talking about, I know. And so, like, how do you deal with that? How do you help people identify at the beginning of a conversation? What are you trying to accomplish? What do you want to have this person do or not do?

Karen Knab Guest24:40

That's such a good point. That happens so often where somebody is upset, offended, hurt, victimized and they want the other person to fix it, but they don't know what to tell them to do. They saw that over and over and over again when I was doing marriage counseling. It's like, well, he or she, they just need to know and they should do this instead. Actually, that's even too much information Sometimes they should know that I was feeling upset and they need to help me. Like, okay, well, what does that look like? What does help look like?


So part of the coaching is about brainstorming with people. Honestly, it's throwing out a bunch of ideas. Which ones are we getting close? What arena are we in? Do you want an apology? Do you want some physical response? Do you want money? Do you want what exactly is going to make you feel better? That's tough for people. Sometimes they can't even tell you because they don't want to tell you, because they don't maybe want to resolve it. There's a small population of people who we really have to dig deep and say do you want this to be different? Like, why is it so hard to come up with a potential solution? That's a small subset, but that definitely shows up in terms of some people who don't want to solve the conflict. Really.

Karen Covy Host26:15

Yeah, what you're saying is so important and I hope people hear it. It's that oftentimes when there's a conflict, the conflict is not about what it looks like. It's about you've got to dig deeper to find out what's the problem. I know in my clients and relationships complain about this all the time. If I'm coaching a man, he's like the woman I don't know what she wants and she says she wants an apology. And then I apologize and she says, yeah, but you don't mean it. It's like I can't win. The same thing happens oftentimes. I would expect in the workplace that if you don't know what it is that you're trying to achieve, your possibility of achieving it gets pretty low.

Karen Knab Guest27:06

Yeah, and unfortunately in workplaces there's often a feeling on how deep people are willing to go right, how vulnerable If there's not a lot of trust in your workplace, if the culture doesn't support that deeper sharing, which it doesn't have to. That's not a requirement, but if there are these longstanding conflicts, it is going to be difficult to get at the deeper issue because, like you said, what it sounds like on the surface, I didn't respond to my email for three days Like okay, what's going on there? Yes, and I mean unless either the person was really sick or, yeah, there's something deeper going on. But so when anything is out of the norm of normal office behavior, there's either like a very physical explanation that's obvious, or it is some sort of deeper emotional piece which, if the culture doesn't support talking about that stuff, it's going to go unresolved and the issue is going to continue. So it is tricky in office environments.

Karen Covy Host28:10

Okay. So I'm going to flip this back into relationships and ask you a tough question, because you just said you know, if the culture of the workplace doesn't support this kind of a deeper conversation and going deeper, then it's going to be difficult. How can a couple in a marriage create a culture that allows for this kind of conversation and this kind of deeper exploration, so that their relationship can grow and be deeper, instead of being mired in conflict and staying just at a surface level?

Karen Knab Guest28:45

Yes, yes. So, depending on where they're at in terms of, you know, staying or going in the relationship, the first thing I would always tell couples is you have to stop using the word divorce if we're going to work together on saving your marriage. So this is going back into when I did couples counseling you have to promise that you're going to stop using that term and threatening divorce, because the minute somebody threatens divorce, you're right back to square one and there's no trust in the relationship. Right? If somebody's on the way out, why would you want to share anything with them? Why would you be vulnerable with them? Why would you expose yourself to somebody rejecting you? If they're on the way out and that's, of course, the only thing that's going to help the relationship is to have more trust, be more vulnerable, share more than you have been sharing. So that's already a bad sign if people are throwing around the word divorce pretty flippantly, or threatening to leave, or threatening, you know, in all sorts of ways. Now, if we're not quite there to that point and they're still, they're coming in or they want to deepen their relationship.


I do think it is important to focus somewhat on repair, because they're already clearly having conflict. How do you repair those conflicts? We don't want to just let them go, because they just build on one another. So learning how to properly repair a conflict is critical. And there's a wonderful book. It's a pretty short read. It's called why Won't you Apologize, and it's by a psychologist. Her name is escaping me right now Harriet Lerner, excuse me.

Karen Covy Host30:26

I love her. She writes so many amazing books.   

Karen Knab Guest30:30

The Dance of Anger the. You know like all of it. This is one of her newer books. I mean she's been publishing for probably 30, 40 years at this point that book is.


I've recommended that book, I mean, dozens of times to clients because it breaks down what essentially makes a good apology and what is a bad apology. We all know what bad apologies are. Sort of intuitively, we're all like that didn't land, that wasn't good enough, they weren't really sorry, they were just sort of trying to get me off their back. But what makes a good apology? And there's actually there's some self-reflection that's required. Are you actually sorry that this happened?


One of the things that I say to people is well, if you could do it over again, would you do the same thing? And if they say, yes, we got work to do, knowing that it caused this big conflict, but oftentimes they'll say no, I mean of course not. Knowing like this whole drama and crisis happened as a result. So I said that's part, that's gotta be part of your apology. Right, if you could just say I'm so sorry this happened. If I could do it over again, I would absolutely not do this. I would have done this knowing what I know now. That goes so much further into healing a conflict so people can really move on. That language is really important, but you also have to feel it. You know you have to believe it.

Karen Covy Host31:52

Well, yeah, that's an important component Like this has to be honest and authentic and legitimate. If you're just saying the words to like paste over, you know to just gloss over the problem so that you don't have to deal with the consequences. It's a whole different feeling.

Karen Knab Guest32:13

But it's also sort of like low stakes too. I mean, you're not having to be super vulnerable and talk about what a terrible person you were or how thoughtless you were. You're like, yeah, I get it, I wouldn't do that again. I see how this affected our relationship negatively and I don't want our relationship to be like this. That's, you know, you're not exposing so much really when you're saying that, but it still goes a long way and it can land really effectively, especially if it's new for you to talk like that.

Karen Covy Host32:43

You know, what you're saying is such gold, and what's so interesting and fascinating is that interpersonal relationships are interpersonal relationships, Whether you're talking about the workplace, your marriage, your family and kids. You know it's a skill set, and I think what I'm hearing from you is that it's a skill set that can be learned, yet, at the same time, it's one that most of us aren't taught consciously by our parents, our teachers, our society or whatever. So we just beat ourselves up thinking that, well, this is just the way I am, or the way my spouse, partner, coworker, employee, whatever, this is just the way it is, when it doesn't have to be that way.

Karen Knab Guest33:31

We have to anticipate miscommunications, we have to anticipate misunderstandings and you know, essentially conflicts, because we're all different people. The idea that we're never gonna see something differently than someone else, even a close spouse or friend, is kind of not real. That's a fantasy that there's someone out there who thinks exactly like us, right, and so it's far better to arm ourselves with some of these tools to repair any misunderstandings or miscommunications before they turn into something bigger. And that's what you and I often see is the results of conflicts that have spiraled and kept going and going and going and gotten so much bigger, to the point where you can't even really identify the original issue. But had the original issue been dealt with in an effective way, we'd be in a much different place weeks, months, years down the line. So that's something that I think is really important for everyone who has ever experienced a conflict that they didn't think should have occurred.


This is normal. Conflict isn't the issue. This conflict is just a fact of life. We're always gonna see things differently from other people. It's how we repair those conflicts and how we're able to take a step back and find a way to say you know what I don't like how this is going. I wish this. You know, I don't like the fact that we're not on the same page. I'm sorry that I, you know, said this in this way, or however it goes. That is the skill that we need to be building, not this idea that we need to find the perfect people, the perfect spouse or the perfect leadership team. That's never gonna, you know, have a difference of opinion with us, right, it's. That's not it, because that's never gonna happen.

Karen Covy Host35:25

Yeah, 100%, and I think you know what people need to hear from this too. What I'm hearing from what you're saying is that you've gotta take responsibility for your part in the conflict, and that's hard and scary, especially because it requires you to be vulnerable. And, again, you've gotta have that trust level that you were talking about before in order to be willing to do that. And but if you are and you can take that responsibility and say, hey, I don't like where this is going and deal with the issue before it becomes a six-headed monster, you have a chance at really repairing a relationship, whether that's at work or at home, and making things stronger and better, rather than ultimately ending up with them dissolving and falling apart.

Karen Knab Guest36:21

Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. And I think what people also need to hear or need to understand is that when I'm in a relationship with somebody and we have some sort of misstep, whether they come to me to repair it and I receive it graciously, or the other way around, what that does is it actually strengthens the relationship moving forward. When somebody comes to me and says, hey, I really didn't like that, you did this, and I say, oh my gosh, I'm so sorry, I won't do that again. Moving forward and I mean it that inspires trust, that increases trust, because now I feel like, oh, if I had an issue, I could go to this person and they would be open to hearing from me and we could figure it out together.


So, particularly, it's not just you going to other people, but if people come to you, to also make sure that you're trying to receive that as graciously as possible, to let that person know that you are approachable. That's a big thing I end up talking to leaders about is, if people aren't coming to talk to you, it's more than likely that it's because you're not approachable. Either you're going to respond in a negative, defensive way, or you're going to say one thing to them and make promises that you don't keep and they just get sick of it. But being able to really hear someone's concerns and address them, that's a highlight, a hallmark of a skilled, skilled leader.

Karen Covy Host37:48

Yeah, and also of a good spouse with a strong relationship, because if your spouse comes to you and tries to repair, tries to reach out, offers the olive branch, so to speak, and you just smack it away out of their hand, they're not going to do it again, and or they're going to be reluctant to do it again, and that's when you end up with more serious problems that maybe can't be repaired in the future, which is sad.

Karen, this has been a fascinating conversation. I could keep going. I could just keep talking and talking, and talking, but I know that our time is up, so before we go, I just let people know where can they find you if they want to know more.

Karen Knab Guest38:34

So, first of all, it's just great to go to my website. There I offer a complimentary 15-minute mini assessment of your leadership skills. So we'll get on a call together, we'll talk really quickly about certain aspects of leadership and where you at, and I'll leave you with some really powerful tip for you to use that day. If you know you want leadership skills and you want to talk further about that, we can also have a call about that. But www.karenknab.com or follow me on LinkedIn, I regularly post content around leadership skills as well as conflict resolution skills.

Karen Covy Host39:11

Karen, thank you so much. That's been awesome and, for anyone who's listening, we will also link in the show notes to your website so people can find you there. Thank you so much for sharing so much wisdom here today and for everybody out there who's watching or who's listening. If you enjoyed this episode, if you like this content and you want more of it makes a world of difference. If you like, give the video a thumbs up, subscribe to the podcast, subscribe to the YouTube channel, and I look forward to seeing you again next time.


after divorce, divorce tips, marriage advice, off the fence podcast

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