Issues of Identity (Race/Gender/Disability/LGBT) Are Important, But Might Not Always Be Central.

Three people sought conflict coaching because they were miserable at work. Can you guess the conflict?

  1. Derrick is a Gay, Latino man who works in finance.
  2. Terry is a Caucasian mother of two in her 50's who's a project manager at a marketing company.
  3. Na'Keshia is an African American woman with lupus; she's also a social worker.

Each of us is a melting pot of identities, histories, and experiences. And these interact in surprising ways. When a client walks in the room, it's tempting to assume that the identities that WE see are the ones at the center of the problem. But this is a shortcut. We must be open to exploring what our clients bring and where they go. Acknowledge and respect their identities, then look past them, to their individuality.

Back to Derrick, Terry and Na'Keshia.

  1. An easy assumption is that Derrick was being harassed at work because he's a gay man in a bro culture. But Derrick sought help because his friend at work was in a violent relationship. As the oldest sibling in a single parent household, he feels protective of her and somewhat responsible for what's happening to her.
  2. One might assume age or gender discrimination is at play. But Terry was accused of sending an racially insensitive email. She's mortified, hurt, and frustrated. She feels isolated and angry that no one wants to talk to her about it.
  3. Na'Keshia's new job with the homeless community has been triggering for her. She hears stories similar to the abuse her mother suffered as a child and she's having a hard time setting appropriate boundaries.

Do you want to explore more about how identity, history and context interplay in conflict? For yourself and others?

Then join us for a powerful new workshop, Context in Conflict. Sign up at