Just because I am right, does not necessarily mean you are wrong. We are all faced with conflict at some
point. Most of us perceive conflict as something negative. My position is that it does not have to be, nor should it be.
Conflict can be good. Most people see that as a strange statement. For many conflict is something that is avoided at all
costs. For others, it can seem like a sport, a game we can play and WIN.
I am Right
My position is that a healthy discussion and even debate over disagreements leads to better
decisions. The problem lies when we take a position, and believe in the merits of our story. We
believe our position is right, and therefore the other person must be wrong. There is merit in
what we believe, our opinion did not just come out of thin air. We have facts to support our
view, we have thought through the options and have made the best decision. All of that sounds
logical, so what is the problem?
The problem is that other people have different experiences, and apply different stories to the
facts. Their experience provides them with a different point of view, which may allow them to
project different outcomes. Their opinion, did not materialize out of thin air either!
If we both simply argue to defend our position, the conflict turns ugly. Relationships can be
destroyed, somebody is bound to win, and someone else will lose. There is a strong possibility
the decision is made based on power, rather than merit. The decision may even end up in
compromise. I am not suggesting that compromise is a bad thing, simply that it may not be the
best way to decide on an issue.
Manage Conflict Better
The question becomes how can we better manage conflict. I believe the first step is to reframe
the position that conflict is bad. It certainly can be, but it does not have to be. Coming to the
conclusion that conflict handled properly can provide more information in which to base
decisions. Conflict, properly managed can also lead to better relationships.
How he to manage conflict
Listen with the Intent to Understand
If you are a frequent reader of this blog, you will recognize a consistent theme. That the art of
listening to others is the key to developing relationships. It is also the key to managing conflict.
If we take the time and make the effort to understand where the other person is coming from we
will be able to allow for additional information and insight into the problem. This act provides
the two benefits described above.
1. More information in which to base a decision.
2. A better understanding of the other person and where they are coming from.
These two simple points are what lead to better decisions and better relationships.
Keep reading, in future articles we will describe a conflict resolution process with more detail.
With examples of actual conflicts that resulted in better decisions and better relationships.