Conflict is conflict, whether it is between a husband and wife, friends, co-workers, or teams, in life and in work, the underlying issues that drive and create conflict are fundamentally the same. In all cases, we are dealing with relationships, perceptions, and significance.
How is conflict broadly defined? Conflict is defined as “strong disagreement between people, groups, etc. that results in often angry arguments, and a disagreement between ideas, feelings, etc.” At its core, conflict is always seen through the eye of the beholder, whether individuals, or groups. Ultimately, resolution can only be found when there is some common agreement on what the problem is. This does not always mean that all will agree on the solution, but the process minimizes the negative aspects of conflict.
I want to talk to you today about how you can stop avoiding conflict, learn how to drive resolutions, and most importantly build better relationships, teams, and friendships.
When conflicts arise, our emotions are triggered and escalate. Our thoughts, feelings and sense of self go into fight or flight mode. When we are in fight mode, we immediately assume the other person is attacking us personally and they are wrong – us versus them mentality and leaves us sometimes misunderstanding the whole disagreement altogether. We can come across as controlling, dominating and lack flexibility. We may simply be unwilling to change.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives nor the intelligent, but rather the one most responsive to change” – Charles Darwin.
We all are unique and have different back stories (upbringings) and cultural backgrounds and some of us, have a passion for conflict. I know growing up in my generation we may have avoided expressing ourselves because of limiting beliefs - “Children are to be seen and not heard”. Conflict is not a bad thing. It’s how we react to it is the issue.
Conflict is inevitable both in work and in life in general. Communication is key in sharing our viewpoints and creating change. It should feel safe to express ourselves and have our opinions heard. The alternative, avoiding conflict altogether, creates resentment that builds over time, eventually spilling over. We all have and will experience conflict but rather than come from a place of fear and apprehension, trust in yourself to be authentic and confident in what you want to disagree on, and know it’s for the greater good of the company, relationship or family. Sometimes, a decision has to be made, and agreeing to disagree, respecting each other, but moving forward anyway is okay too!
“10% of conflicts are due to difference in opinion and 90% is due to the wrong tone of voice” - Anonymous
Engaging in conflict is also showing trust. It is leaving fear behind and allowing yourself to be vulnerable and trust the conflict will come to a resolution. It is also showing your family and co-workers that it is safe to engage in conflict and eliminates the eye rolling and avoidance around the topic to go on way longer than it should. Expressing yourself and not feeling guilty about it is the key to great communication and understanding.
Here are a couple of tips to use in times of conflict – these are equally effective in your work environments and in your personal life: -
“Whenever you’re in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make a difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is attitude.” William James