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Trevor E. S. Smith | Inner conflicts

Published:Monday | February 19, 2018 | 12:00 AMTrevor E. S. Smith

The email came at the wrong time. Yet, the moment he hit 'Send', it was clear it might not be well-received.

Things were not going well at work, and the unresolved issue at home had been occupying his mind. The email he had received was not really offensive - under normal circumstances, he would not have reacted the way he did.

Why then did he react the way he did?


Inner Conflict


Can you identify with the scenario above?

The situation is an example of the impact of inner conflict. Inner conflict can be likened to an enemy that is hiding within. Inner conflict has the capacity to distract, disrupt, and destroy. It threatens to steal our joy. Unless we become alert to its presence, we will overlook its influence.


Missing element


Inner conflict is often excluded from traditional conflict management training and interventions. A lot of focus is placed on resolving conflict between people, where advice and strategies to resolve conflicts dominate the curriculum. This is useful and helps to prevent issues from escalating as well as in normalising tensions.

What is not usually emphasised, is that inner conflict is a frequent source of the interpersonal conflict. That is why I prefer to speak in terms of conflict avoidance and management.

If we can avoid the conflict, then there will be no need to resolve it.

In the situation above, at the core, there is no interpersonal conflict. One might arise from the reaction to the email that has now been sent. The real issue is the state of mind that prompted the sending of the email. In the absence of the unresolved domestic concerns and the feelings about how things were going at work, a more thoughtful email may have been crafted.


Uncovering Inner Conflict


Here are two powerful keys to identifying inner conflict before they do too much damage:




In the hustle and bustle of life, we are far less attuned to what is going on inside than we realise. We spend so little time and attention to our thoughts, our actions and the rhythm of our bodies, that it is not obvious when things start to go wrong.

For example, the very important link between breathing and the mind was reinforced at the Breakthrough Boot Camp And Mentoring Program presentation by Supreet Ahluwalia, Meditation expert. Get a sense of the breathing/mind link, by noticing the difference in how you breathe when you are calm versus when you are agitated.

Another take away from the Breakthrough Boot Camp for me is that by paying attention to (or better yet, managing) your breathing, you can produce the Change of State that Breakthrough catalyst Keri Smith indicates is one key to "disrupting negative patterns" that might be holding you back from getting to the next level.


The Why?


A conflict is in essence, an unmet need or desire. So, conflicts are ever present in our lives. The key is to identify and track their influence and its impact on our thoughts, moods and behaviour.

If we are alert, we can pick up that we are not in the best frame of mind. We are uncomfortable about something. It is important to get to the root cause of what is causing us to feel that way. The trail usually leads to an unmet need or desire.

Having identified the need or desire, we can take steps to address it.

Digging deep and having the patience to identify what is influencing our thoughts and our mindset, gives us greater control over how we respond to events. It provides us with a compass for conflict avoidance.




Participate in a face-to-face, interactive Conflict Avoidance And Management Personal Development Workshop being put on by the St Andrew Church of Christ, Sunday, February 25, at

6 p.m. Location: 77 Red Hills Road. Facilitators: AndrÈ Allen-Casey and Trevor Smith. No charge.

The Breakthrough Boot Camp And Mentoring Programme is now open for participation. Http://

- Trevor E. S. Smith and the Success with People Academy team prepare and certify leadership professionals and coach/mentors and develop high-performing teams. Hire smart with their recruitment solutions. Now enrolling for the Q1 cohort of the ICF/SHRM-Accredited Certified Behavioural Coach programme. The Breakthrough Boot Camp And Mentoring Programme is now open for participation. Email: