A Coaching Power Tool created by Theresa Custer
(Leadership and Business Coaching, UNITED STATES)
All polishing is done by friction.
Mary Parker Follet
Conflict: [kon-flikt] noun
- A fight, battle or struggle, especially a prolonged struggle; strife.
- Controversy; quarrel: conflicts between parties.
- Discord of action, feeling or effect; antagonism or opposition, as of interests or principles: a conflict of ideas.
- A striking together; collision.
- Incompatibility or interference, as of one idea, desire, event, or activity with another: a conflict in the schedule.
Opportunity: [op-er-too-ni-tee] noun
- An appropriate or favorable time or occasion: Their meeting afforded an opportunity to exchange views.
- A situation or condition favorable for attainment of a goal.
- A good position, chance, or prospect, as for advancement or success.
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of the word conflict? More often than not, we deem “conflict” to be something negative, a disagreement, friction, stress, or a difference in opinions or viewpoints. It certainly can be all of these things, but it doesn’t have to be.
Conflicts usually consist of genuine differences compounded by stuck positions, fixed attitudes, hardened identities, and closed hearts. If words are going to make any difference, they need to be the right ones, in the right tone, and at the right time.
Conflict is a normal part of any healthy relationship. After all, we can’t always agree on everything. The real question is; “How do you deal with or handle the differences?” This is the point where conflict often takes that negative turn. We allow our emotions to step in to the picture instead of looking at the differences for what they are, and appreciating the value of each individual’s viewpoint. We take it personally, as an attack on our values or integrity. We end up having negative emotional reactions.
Let’s face it, if we all agreed on everything it would be a rather boring world. It is the differences in people that we find fascinating and exciting. It’s what allows us to have a different perspective on things and it allows us to grow. If a manager has five individuals working for them, and they all agree on everything….. Well, the manager has four too many people working for them. This is the viewpoint we should consider. Once we do, we are able to move forward to bigger and better things.
Consider the potential for conflict:
- Cultural and world-view differences
- Resistance to change
- The problem of moving people in a direction of common good without perceived authority
- Interpersonal avoidance or attack
- Systems upgrades
- Generational differences
- Succession planning
- Cross-department allocation of resources
- Managing priorities with tight deadlines while simultaneously respecting competing demands for time and other resources
- Avoidance and exploitation instead of resolution
Learning how to deal with conflict is so important. When it is mismanaged it can cause great harm to a relationship, but when it is handled in a respectful and positive way, conflict provides an opportunity for us to strengthen the bond between others.
Conflict comes from differences. It occurs whenever people disagree over something or have a difference in opinion. We compare these differences to our own values, perceptions, ideas and desires. Sometimes these differences appear trivial, but if we allow strong feelings to come in to play, a deep personal need is often at the core of the problem. The need could be to feel safe and secure, respected and valued, or even a great need for closeness and intimacy.
Everyone wants to feel understood and supported, but it is the ways in which these needs are met that vary widely. Differing needs to feel comfortable and safe create some of the biggest challenges in our personal and professional relationships.
In personal relationships, a lack of understanding about differing needs may result in distance, arguments, and break-ups. In workplace conflicts, differing needs may result in bitter disputes, broken deals, fewer profits and lost jobs. When you can recognize, understand and respect conflicting needs and become willing to look at them with compassionate understanding, you will be able to move to creative problem solving, team building and improved relationships.
Conflicts are an opportunity for growth. When you’re able to resolve conflict between others, you build trust. The knowledge that you are able to survive challenges and disagreements allows you the ability to move forward and explore new opportunities.