“An eye for an eye, will only make the whole world blind”Mahatma Gandhi
There is an ever-increasing amount of conflict in life these days, whether it is due to differing ideas, opinions, or experiences.
Conflict often feels terrible and seems to drive feelings of anger, frustration, or disengagement.
Well, the truth is that conflict is everywhere, and to sail through life without something coming about that puts you in conflict, is just not realistic.
Yet, with all the conflict around us, we don’t get a lot of help learning how to manage it successfully, so that the result is a win/win of understanding and resolution, with an overall outcome objective of maintaining the relationship.
I had a colleague years ago that used to say, “we need more honorable debate.” What he meant is that we needed more respectful dialogue on a topic, and we also needed to be prepared to support our point of view on the topic.
Debates do not have to be uncomfortable. They can create the space to be passionate and to ardently put forth your point of view, without being disrespectful and leaving the exchange bitter.
To me, conflict is neither good or bad. It is the difference between two perspectives.
However, how we choose to resolve conflict makes all the difference to determine if it is a good or bad experience.
Tips to Navigate Conflict
A few things to consider when you are in conflict (or preparing for a conflict) with someone:
- Recognize your own emotions and what is driving you to feel in conflict.
- Think about where the other person is coming from, stay objective in your mindset, mindful breathing helps manage the nerves.
- Be clear on your intention of the interaction. What do you want to get out of it?
- Don’t go in closed to their perspective, chances are you both want the same thing, but have a different approach to get there.
- Recognize and acknowledge the other person’s perspective.
- Don’t engage if you are emotionally upset or frustrated. Take a step back and again breathe.
- If the conversation is getting over heated, don’t feed the other person’s defensive energy. It is best to call a time out and let the energy dissipate for a bit.
- Give yourself a break if things don’t go well. Just come back to it and resolve it by accepting your part of the engagement that didn’t go well. Apologize if you need to and remember that everyone is right and everyone is wrong. Own your side of it.
- Acknowledge that sometimes, you will need to agree to disagree. If you do this, let go of whatever emotional baggage is there and commit to being just as positive with this person as before. Grudges never get you anywhere and often come back to pull you way off track.
- Embrace diversity, inclusion, and equity in your life, although also recognize that just being open to other’s perspectives, that will challenge your own, will also put you in conflict, even if it is just with yourself. Stay open to learning and deciding for yourself what you want to take away from the engagement.
Learning how to manage conflict is a crucial skill for anyone in business, and for that matter, life.
Whether you lead formally or informally, understanding what is driving the conflict, helping to proactively resolve it and build relationships will always serve you well.
Will Conflict Go Away?
Conflict isn’t going away, especially as the world becomes more polarized in viewpoints. Working in a global business world, also brings different cultures, approaches, experiences to the forefront and will create conflict.
How you chose to resolve it, and it is a choice, makes the difference between leading to a better place or not.
And here’s a little secret about me. I don’t like conflict, yet my day to day career is navigating a sea of conflict daily. Trying to listen and understand, while opening space for discussion and hopefully resolution. Most people don’t like conflict either, and find themselves in it due to a challenge in articulating something that they need, believe or desire.
As I have been more active on social media, I have seen a lot more conflict and down right meanness that comes about, by the relative anonymity it provides.
At first, I wasn’t sure what to make of it, but then I realized that it is similar to the real world around us (live) where there is always someone trying to throw a wrench into things.
Whether that is Uncle Johnny or Aunt Taleroo, that one person you know at work, or a host of other interactions, there is always that “one person.” 😉
So don’t give your power away to them.
They look for a rise in others, it is a game for them. The more they know that they can bug you, the more they will do it. Don’t fall into their web. But if you do, make sure you bring your scissors ✂️
Conquer conflict positivity and Shine Brightly!