Every action, every person, every country and every business deals with conflict. It is inevitable and if handled correctly, it improves the situation. Problems arise only when it is handled improperly.
People address conflicts in different ways.
Avoidance is the easy way, but that adds to the problem. You cannot create conflict by addressing it. I have heard ideas like, “We can’t talk about that, it causes conflict.” Nothing could be further from the truth. The conflict is there, it is just a question of whether you want it to eat at you every day or deal with it.
Bullying is another way to make conflict into a problem. Some people are so sure of their position that they need not consider any other. Selfishness is similar. Knowing what someone else wants or needs from the interaction and refusing to give it. Do you think the bullied or ignored person will forget their needs?
Many people dislike conflict and become passive. Most of these go along now and sabotage the situation later. Dealing with the situation several times is unproductive.
Conflicts are good when they lead to truth. You achieve that by presenting your position and listening carefully to the other side. In most conflicts, the huge percentage of points will be identical. Be sure to notice those and then find the ones that are different and address them.
Disagreements are quite fine so long as they do not become a right and wrong argument. One of my partners in the accounting firm often said, “I like to argue, but I don’t like hostility.” A good argument clarifies positions and helps find the truth.
Conflict resolution is a useful skill. Addressed as a problem solving exercise, it can be fruitful. Eventually you come to the question of determining what is right, rather than who is right. Then there is no more conflict. On that point.
Don Shaughnessy arranges life insurance for people who understand the value of a life insured estate. He can be reached at The Protectors Group, a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency in Peterborough, Ontario. In previous careers, he has been a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business.
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