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Navigating (Summer Vacation) Conflicts

how to deal with conflicts in communication

The summer months of vacation time are upon us. Lots of discussions are happening in households and relationships about how to spend this time.


Once on your vacation, it often sounds something like this:

Him: “I’m exhausted trying to get to all these places, it’s not even fun anymore!”

Her: “C’mon, we have it all planned out; we’ll regret it when we come home if we miss it”.


Ok, we’ll come back to this couple.


Judging your partner's suggestions

Sonika & I took a coaching program recently, the Positive Intelligence Coaching by Shirzad Chamine. In the program, Shirzad outlines five Sage Powers, essentially five skills required for any kind of success, whether in business, relationship, or for happiness and wellbeing.


One of those powers, Innovate, is highly relevant to this couple trying to figure out what to do – or not do – on their vacation. We’ve always taught this Innovate skill, albeit in our own language, as an integral part of coming up with win-win solutions in any kind of conflict.


What happens in a conflict or disagreement? You present your case, then I present mine. We hope to find some common ground, but all too often, we end up judging the quality of the other’s suggestions while arguing more intensely for our own.


For instance, this couple talking about their vacation:


Her: “If we’re using our time and money to go to France, we should make the most of it. I want to see the Eiffel Tower and everything in Paris; I want to go to Provence and the Alps”.

Him: “There’s no way we’re doing all that in three weeks; we’ll do nothing but travel. Let’s just stay in Paris the whole time and enjoy the romantic city”.

Her: “No way we’re staying in Paris the whole time; that’s a terrible idea”.


You can imagine how it continues. In their attempts to advance their own idea, they spend their energy telling the other person why their idea is bad. This way of communicating makes no advances towards a solution and it sours the mood between them.


Innovate conversations

The Innovate power mentioned above is all about getting creative and building upon each other’s idea. Shirzad likens it to the improv technique of “Yes, and …” No matter what your partner says, you say, “Yes, and …” and then add your own ideas.


Using the Innovate power, we also assume that the other person’s idea always has at least 10% merit. So even if you disagree with your partner’s statements or suggestions, you say, “Yes, and …” and you comment on the 10% of the other person’s idea that you can work with, that does have value.


So when she says, “I want to see the Eiffel Tower and everything in Paris; and I want to go to Provence and the Alps”, he might say, “Yes, and I want to see all the Paris sights too. Maybe we could stay in Paris the entire time and really get to enjoy it?” Then she might say, “Well I like the part about really enjoying Paris. How could we also get to see other parts of the country?”


Innovate means get creative. It’s fine if you don’t agree with your partner’s suggestions. But instead of chopping their ideas to pieces, focus on being creative with the 10% (or more) of their idea you can work with. Your conversations - and vacations - will be a lot more pleasant and productive.


PS. One couple I coached went to France with a very full travel plan. After 4 days they were indeed exhausted, cranky, and annoyed with each other. It wasn’t until they had a blow-up that they started an Innovate-type conversation. After that, they had a wonderful trip. Tip: Don’t wait for the blow-up. Have an Innovate-conversation up front!


LoveWorks: We believe relationships are meant to be an empowering, fun, passionate, safe place to grow, love, and learn. Where we get to be more of who we are, not less. We know it’s not always easy, but it can definitely be easier! With our unique and practical approach to relationship, you learn how to resolve conflicts quickly and enjoy fulfilling intimacy for the rest of your life. To learn more or contact us, visit

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