Things I Love About Conflict

Oct 7 / Jen Tyson
Do you already have a ‘default’ reaction to that word ‘conflict’? 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 as 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 life 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. Differing perspectives, filters, experiences, knowledge, understanding etc.
Instead of aiming to be right – Aim for better understanding
How about inviting it in, getting to know it, rename 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, and have that important robust discussion.

Things I Love about potentially healthy conflict:

1. It can show us 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.
2. It 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.
3. Healthy conflict, when dealt with in a healthy way, with good practice, framework, planning and support can lead to breakthroughs that may not have happened had that ‘robust essential conversation’ had not taken place.

Tips for being more open to those robust discussions:

1. 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?
2. 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).
3. Try not to assume too much 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?’
4. 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 someone. Naming and shaming is NEVER a good idea.
5. Consider the mode of intended delivery, is it appropriate? There are so many ways we can deliver a message to someone. Email, text 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, by phone/zoom. 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 misinterpretation with the written word 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: We don’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
If you need some help in this area for yourself you could do my free course on ‘Vital conversations’ over in the Switched On Learning space.
If you need some help with your team in the communication space, contact me to discuss further
Here is to having more conversations that matter
Jen
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