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You are the captain of your high school basketball team. Your team has been preparing all season for regional championships, which are now one week away. You get a call from your mother, in distress, saying that her sister has died unexpectedly. This sister - your aunt - has not been close to the rest of the family and you barely know her. The funeral is on the same day as your regional championships, and the events are four hours apart by car and you do not have a driver's license.

Sample CASPer Questions:

1. Do you attend the funeral or the basketball game? Why?

This is a difficult dilemma because, even though I barely knew my aunt, my mother and other family members are particularly saddened by the event and I want to be empathetic to that. However, I have an obligation to my team as the captain. If I decide to go to the funeral, I will be letting my team down, but if I decide to go to the game, I won’t be supporting my family. Given the emotional and practical consequences of each decision, I will go to the funeral instead of the game. I will call a team meeting and explain that my aunt has just passed, and I need to attend the funeral and support my family. I would be proactive to ensure my co-captain can stand in for me: briefing them on team responsibility and how I think they should lead the team. I will also speak to the coach to find out if there’s any way we could reschedule the game. If possible, I would reach out to the event organizer to explain my situation and ask, respectfully, if the event can be changed. In any case, I will need to support my mother in her time of need.  

2. Describe a time when you had to make a similarly challenging decision.

About a year ago, I had to make a difficult decision between going to my cousin’s dance recital or going with my girlfriend to her family member’s wedding, an invitation that I received and agreed to months in advance. My cousin, who wasn’t supposed to perform that night, got called up from a different division because one of the main dancers got injured. It was an amazing opportunity for her, and naturally, I wanted to go with the rest of the family to support her. However, I chose to go to the wedding with my girlfriend because I’d made a promise a long time ago. I called my cousin, told her that I was proud of her, and then explained that I wish I could see her perform. She understood and told me that it was fine, and perhaps I would be able to attend another recital in the future. However, because I asked my mother to record it, I got to watch her perform after all. 

3. What is your strategy for managing conflicting demands in your life? How did you develop this strategy?

My strategy for managing conflict in life is a step-by-step process. I start by identifying the issue, communicating about the issue with relevant people, determining the cost and benefits of all potential decisions, and then I create a priority list that I use to make a final decision. I built the foundation of my strategy around my personal priorities and communicating these priorities. Most of the time, the decisions I make are utilitarian in nature – that is, I try to make decisions that would bring the greatest benefit to the most amount of people. I developed this strategy as a way of managing conflict as a supervisor of a golf training facility. When I was training new employees with our training methods, some of them had input and wanted to use their own methods. Usually, I would give them a chance to explain their methods, and then we worked together to develop a strategy that could incorporate their unique knowledge and ideas. 

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