Did you already have a reaction to that word? If so you are not alone!
Let me clarify, not all conflict is useful or productive.
There is the nasty, pointless, destructive type – and then there is the regular old type that happens when people are just being people.
The regular type I call ‘potentially healthy conflict’, why potentially? Because it only becomes healthy when there are two sides who have the desire to move forward, move through to the other side whatever that may look like. Those who view it is a tool, a starting point for change often understand that conflict can be healthy.
Bad news for those who have decided, for whatever reason, that they don’t like conflict and have labelled all conflict as bad, scary, or even dangerous. A happy healthy live living and working with other humans cannot exist well on a functional level without the conflict.
We are all people who have been created differently, we are all unique in many ways, so there will be conflict arising from just that fact alone.
Don’t aim to be right – Aim for better understanding
How about inviting it in, getting to know it, re name it, expand your tool kit to deal with it better, learn how to use it as a tool.
I recently decided to re name the conversational side of conflict ‘Robust discussions’ Be willing to go there, have that important robust discussion.
3 Things I Love:
- Conflict shows we are all different and that is a GREAT thing! Let’s celebrate our strengths and differences – learn that we need each other’s strengths to make great teams and relationships.
- Conflict can provide the opportunity to grow, learn and gain greater understanding and knowledge about situations and people. It can bring perspective if we are willing. Knowledge and understanding are powerful things.
- Conflict, when dealt with in a healthy way, with good practice, framework, planning and support can lead to breakthrough that may not have happened had that ‘robust essential conversation’ had not taken place.
5 tips for being more open those robust discussions:
- Plan your conversations, what is your common desired outcome? What are the facts? What is the real issue without personal opinion or bias? How is the other person feeling? What are they thinking? What is their real intention?
- Practice using different words, if your conversations are not going well, have a think about the language you are using – both verbal and nonverbal (body language, facials and tone).
- Never assume anything about another person or situation, assumptions are among the top things that can cause negative conflict and reactions. Instead ASK questions like, ‘what did you mean when you…?’ ‘Can I ask if my assumption about this is correct..?’ or ‘ I would just like to clarify..’ ‘Can/may I ask what your intention is here?’
- Pick your time carefully, poor timing can lead to things spiralling, is the person busy? Tired? Are there others around? NOTE: A meeting is rarely a good place to work through something personal with something. Naming and shaming is NEVER a good idea.
- Consider the mode of delivery, is it appropriate? There are so many ways we can have ‘robust discussion’s now. Email, Txt message, instant message, intranet message, by phone and in person. My experience is that all Robust discussions must be had as close to in person as you can get, face to face is always best where possible, failing that on the phone. It is OK to follow up with an email to confirm anything you need to be in writing but there is FAR too much room for mi interpretation in written words to have the whole discussion that way. The mess can become bigger than it ever needed to be
Be Brave, Be Conscious, Be Compassionate,
Be authentic and honest, Be willing.
Remember: It doesn’t have to be right or wrong, it can be just perspectives that differ
Now go have that next robust discussion, you never know what may open as a result, and it is never as ‘bad as you thought’ it would be