Conflict and Critical Thinking

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Conflict can arise when individuals have major differences in opinions or positions

There is nothing inevitable about conflict

It might appear to be an inevitable result of discussing topics such as abortion or animal rights, and it might seem unavoidable when your business partner and you have vastly different views on how to best deal with a disgruntled employee. But the truth is that there is nothing inevitable about conflict.

We can have disagreements surrounding contentious or important issues without getting into fights or screaming matches. What’s more is that debates which typically arise the most conflict are those for which there is no clear answer. I might have persuasive reasons for my position, but you may also have good reasons not to accept my reasons. Whatever our reasons are, we will never know the quality of our position if we don’t scrutinize them, and in order to scrutinize them we need to entertain and engage alternative perspectives. This skill — being receptive and charitable to the reasoning of others — is an essential aspect of critical thinking skills. Such receptivity is essential to avoiding conflict with others whom we disagree with. We can never better our business, our relationships, and ourselves if we don’t become better listeners and, therefore, better reasoners. In other words, we better our business, our relationships, and ourselves by cultivating our critical thinking skills.

Communicating effectively

But some people have trouble clearly communicating the reasons behind their positions. Sometimes resentment builds, and it becomes difficult to communicate disagreements in a calm and respectable way. If you experience these barriers to communicating effectively at your business or in a relationship, that’s okay! Developing a clear understanding of the reasons behind our positions is not easy to begin with. As such, it’s common for people to have difficulty communicating those reasons. If you recognize that you have trouble expressing yourself clearly, or that you get easily heated when people express their dissent, give yourself pat a on the back. Why? Because recognizing that you need help getting to the core of your conflict is the first step to bettering your critical thinking and communication skills.


Have questions? You can give us a call at (780) 504-1010 or email us.

The Treadmill Grind

While it’s not my intention to write about a new coffee blend, this blog does share something common with our welcome morning cup of joe.   Some of us like it straight black while others will hold out until they hit the nearest ‘bucks’ and order a Skinny Cinnamon Dolce Latte. Regardless, most of us will take a moment with that initial sip and savour it.  “Ahhh…”

So my question to all of you today is, how many of you step out of your daily routines long enough to savour whatever is happening in the moment?  If savour doesn’t strike a chord then try appreciation. If still nothing then what about a reflection on gratitude? Still no? How about any moment in which we experience a genuine moment of contentment.   Anyone?

If the last paragraph caused you to dig deep into your hard drives for any recollections that fit the bill, chances are that you are suffering from ‘LTGS’ or Longterm Treadmill Grind Syndrome.  Has the focus to get ahead, check off another box, meet another deadline, deadened us to life itself? Despite all our responsibilities and timelines are there really, truly, no opportunities to experience moments of real happiness during the day?

If so, how did we allow it to get that way?

Best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell suggests it takes 10,000 hours to master your core skill or ‘craft’.   Let’s break that down: 40 hour work week (I’m hearing “hah, 40 hours – I wish”) x 50 weeks a year works out to 2,000 hours a year.  Using that reference it would take the equivalent of 5 years of full time ‘practice’ to become expert in our talent.

When asked what their ultimate goals in life are most people inevitably state they ‘wish to be happy’.  While this seems like a sensible objective, is it congruent with our day to day practices? If our focus is on everything exclusive of any moments of genuine contentment, how can we expect to achieve the objective of being happy?

The proverbial ‘take time to smell the roses’ is an expression we’ve all heard but few practice.  If we take the time to regularly pay specific attention to the people around us during the day a startling reality emerges – there are very few truly happy people on the treadmill.  

May this insight prompt you to explore life off the treadmill.

Stephen Roehrig
Managing Director
InTrust Communications Inc.

Have you ‘lost the plot’?

Everything is constantly changing.  Nature is likely our greatest teacher with this and yet often we’re reminded that we still don’t ‘get it’.

When it dumps snow in May we’re surprised and yet it does happen, doesn’t it?  We might all grumble that it ‘shouldn’t happen’ but none of us would say it ‘couldn’t happen’.

How many of us step outside the door in the morning in a rush and neglect to pay attention to our surroundings?  The sky is dark, it’s windy and yet nothing is registering that it might rain.  Our intuition might even whisper ‘take an umbrella’ and yet we forge ahead and ‘hope’ it stays dry.   And then, of course, Mother Nature has a giggle as she waits for the most inopportune time to ‘express’ herself.

How is it that we’ve become so oblivious to the signs around us?  You might all say of course everything is changing, Stephen – duh – everyone knows that!   And yet, everyday we have unwelcome experiences that highlight just how out of sync we are with reality.   All too often we lament “If only we had done this or that we could’ve avoided this.”  Isn’t it true that a brutally honest post-event reflection often times reveals that there were opportunities to make better choices and yet…we didn’t.  Why is that exactly?

How does one become more in touch with the dynamic within our busy lives?  What is it that promotes tunnel vision rather than a reliable awareness that alerts us to the potentialities in our worlds?  Have we allowed ourselves to become so consumed with material pursuits that we’ve deviated away from our values?  Does it take an ‘accident’ to finally stop the metaphorical ‘texting while we’re driving?’

The practice of reviewing the ‘surprises’ in our lives naturally leads to becoming more conscious of ourselves and our surroundings.  One could think of it as an ‘early warning system’ that helps us manoeuver more skillfully through our lives and lessen the chances of ‘losing the plot’.

Stephen Roehrig
Managing Director
InTrust Communications Inc.

Why have they got their fingers in their ears?

What comes to mind when you hear someone singing off key? (Maybe that’s you ☺) Karaoke night provides an interesting platform that allows anyone to grab a microphone and provide the voice to the music of popular songs. Most are doing it for fun but frequently someone sings so badly off key yet believing they are the next Michael Bublé.

Sometimes those who’ve convinced themselves they have real talent will pursue that dream until they find themselves on stage at America’s Got Talent. We’ve all seen contestants that get booed off the stage midway through their act to their utter surprise.

How can a person can be that ‘off key’ and not know it? One wonders whether they had ever asked their spouse or a trusted friend directly what they thought? Could it be that this ‘self absorption’ creates and fosters blind spots?

At one time or another most of us have eaten humble pie after waking up from some story we were telling ourselves. If these events result in the recalibration of our views and/or actions then in retrospect a little embarrassment might be viewed as a teachable moment.  

On the other hand if the self-absorption is well established it could blind us to the point of becoming oblivious to any of the available signs. Short of putting their fingers in their ears if we are ‘singing off key’ our listening audience typically offers us valuable feedback if not in words themselves then in a variety of body language.  

If our hubris has mothballed our capacity to tune into these clues – we may well be losing the interest and/or confidence of those we frequently communicate with.  

It’s surprising what the difference is when we have the respect of our audience.

Stephen Roehrig
Vice-President, Operations
Intrust Communications Inc.

Postponed – Reboot Your Relationships Workshop

Saturday, May 19, 2018
9 am – 1 pm
Healing Connections Wellness Centre
10548 115 Street, Edmonton

Join InTrust Communications for a relationship reboot. InTrust has created a program that teaches clients how to communicate positively, clearly, and with integrity before conflict arises. This proactive approach to communicating is sure to flow into all areas of your life once you have the knowledge and awareness of clear communication. With our help you gain insight into your words, perceptions and emotions.

Your facilitator, Jacinta Ball, has been helping clients facilitate positive communications for decades. She is renowned for her intuitive warmth and profound communications programs.

This workshop is for those in seasoned, mature relationships seeking to ensure a continued positive connection. You will learn empowering skills to find your balance and restructure your relationship for the next stage.

$225 plus GST

To register, please email: Beth Harding, Workshop Planner at

Doors: 8:30 am.
Light refreshments served.

Paying Attention as a Means to Success

Intrust Communications - Relationship Services

Quickly:  When was the last time you uttered the words “Well, I didn’t see that coming!”

If you’re like most people (me included..) these typically fly off the tongue when something totally unanticipated surprises us. This could range from something relatively minor like a flat tire or 10 red lights in a row. Inconvenient, yes, but not life threatening.  One could argue that either of these would be unavoidable.

What if the stakes were a little higher? Imagine heading to a critical appointment or staring down the barrel of an important deadline. In these cases, a flat tire or traffic delays might have harsher consequences; unnecessary complications by failing to plan properly.

As unwelcome as these complications might be, there is something even worse that most of us have experienced. An “I told you so” from someone that had warned us in advance is almost worse than being late. This insult to injury can produce an interesting cocktail of frustration, exasperation and consternation.

Some might say these complications serve as an important wake-up call, necessary for re-calibration and adjustment to paying more attention than we had previously. For many others however the default is to remain oblivious to that which is obvious to others. The experience likely then repeats itself without adjustment until the universe steps in and ups the ante a good bit as if to say “you really don’t get it do you?”  

The failure to wake up to the consequences of not paying attention more often than not leads to some impressive train wrecks. Life can be complicated. Regret often sounds like: “If only I could go back and have a do-over…” And while it is impossible to cover off all the bases, there is something to be said about making an honest effort to prevent the unnecessary. Paying attention to potentialities will prevent many unnecessary complications. Paying attention includes purposefully gearing down and taking mindful stock of our circumstance.  This eventually results in a reliable balance in which a flat tire, 10 red lights in a row or any other anomalies are all taken in stride.

Stephen Roehrig
Vice-President, Operations
Intrust Communications Inc.