Windows of insight

‘Windows of insight’ occur in various situations and settings. Sometimes we gain insights during the throes of a conflict or as a result of coaching (from a professional coach or a friend) or with the assistance of a trained therapist. Sometimes insights will come to us during a training workshop, or as we reflect on past situations. (See questions below) But no matter the situation or setting, many of our insights become the catalyst for change, for they give us the ability to look at our own behaviour patterns and at the patterns we’ve established with other people.

Having insights and discovering patterns of behaviour shouldn’t be difficult, but it often is. One of the reasons is that many of us don’t really want to take too close a look at ourselves nor do we want to look too closely at the relations we have with others. Which then begs the question: why is that? Is it because we’re afraid of finding deficiencies in ourselves and in others? And once aware of those deficiencies are we then reluctant to devote the time and effort needed to change the pattern of behaviour or change the structure of our relations with others?

The colleague we talked about in the Founder’s Message certainly thought so. S/he thought it was worthwhile, for it established what Leonard Riskin, who wrote a primer on mindfulness/paying attention(1), called a ‘wedge of awareness’ into the present moment and thereby let them consciously decide whether their usual impulse was the most appropriate value-creating response in that situation.

An insight in combination with mindfulness can assist us in seeing the patterns in behaviour in the present moment. And while the colleague we’ve been talking about was not engaged in mindfulness practices in the eastern sense of the word, s/he certainly was definitely engaged in a form of mindfulness – that is, becoming more attentive to the patterns of behaviour that were helpful and unhelpful in this relationship.

To sum up: it was my colleague’s prior investment in gaining insight into a behaviour pattern that ultimately introduced the wedge of awareness or mindfulness into the room and resulted in the positive outcome.

To assist you in finding insights just as that colleague did, we’d like you recall a specific conversation you had where conflict was present and you got triggered/upset.

When you’ve recalled the incident, please ask yourself the following questions.

  1. What was it about the conversation that triggered you? Did you realize you were triggered during the conversation or afterward?
  2. How did the experience affect you?
  3. Now that you’ve recalled the experience, what insight(s) come to you about yourself or the other person’s behaviours?
  4. If you look at previous situations similar to this conflict can you see patterns? What main pattern drives that behaviour?
  5. If you didn’t change that behaviour, what would be the cost? And if you did change the behaviour, how would it benefit you?



  1. Riskin, L. 2006. The Negotiator’s Fieldbook. Edited by A.Schneider and C. Honeyman. Washington, DC: American Bar Association


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