Different opinions are a natural part of diversity. Handle them with class.
Situations arise everyday, but we can approach them consciously and solve a conflict easily.
"I don't have to attend every argument I'm invited to." — Unknown
Situations of conflict occurs for many reasons. Among them are:
- Arguments because you want to have it your way, while the other wants to have it his way.
- Someone who refuses to listen to your opinion is perceived as an opponent.
- Someone who tells you that your idea is wrong or not realistic.
In any of these situations you may find yourself getting upset, frustrated or withdrawn. Therefore, you set yourself in conflict mode. Often disagreement is (mis)interpreted as opposition.
How true are you in conflict? How much does it cost you or your organization?
We are seeing the reality from our own perspective. What may be true for us may not be for another individual or community. Many examples come to mind at a team, community or even a nation level. Conflicts arise everywhere and in any situation not because people are right or wrong but because of the diversity of perspectives. Our perspectives are only perceptions of the reality based on filters such as beliefs, education, religion, etc. They lead us to feel separated from one another and to conclude that if we don't agree, we automatically are in conflict.
How true is the statement "I am in conflict with my husband or with my boss" at the time you make it? Are you really in conflict with the person you have in mind at this moment, while reading this article? It costs you hours of stress, talking about it and arguing about it. In the case of a working team, it can loosen up the ties between its members, leading to misunderstandings or even sabotage for non-cooperative behaviors.
Basically, when we have an idea we are very excited to share it and to have it validated by others. When it doesn't happen, we are told that we are wrong or our opinion or idea is not valuable or valid, we feel judged and excluded from the group. We become angry, frustrated and distant. In the case of an employee, it impacts engagement and productivity levels.
Anything that comes up, from feeling separated from the group, may generate a conflict. Most of the time, there is no intention to create this type of situation. A small event, a word, can trigger an emotion and a reaction that will develop into animosity.
How much do you do find yourself feeling separated or in conflict with someone who has a different opinion than yours? How did this person meet your needs to be acknowledged and validated? What is your responsibility in this situation? How did you meet your "opponent's needs" for the exact same acknowledgement and validation? In other words, how much do you listen, acknowledge and validate prior to presenting your point of view or opinion?
To solve a conflict, reconcile your team or improve your relationship, apply the following:
Step 1: Identify and clarify the issue.
Step 2: Evaluate the impact on you, the other person, the team and the organization today and in the future, if the situation remains the same.
Step 3: Reassess the reality of the situation. Ask yourself how true your opinion is compared to others who have different background and filters. How would you like others to respond to you when they find themselves having another reality?
Step 4: Tackle the real issue, the one that is at the core of this conflict. How much was your ego in the way? How much did you contribute to the current situation?
Step 5: Engage in a respectful and responsible conversation with the other party. Express yourself using "I" and "we" to explain your perspective. Don't blame by using "you." Example, "I felt I was not fair with your statement. We have a misunderstanding" instead of "Your statement made no sense. How anyone could agree with it?" Words can be hurtful. Choose your words consciously and select the ones that you would like to hear from someone else in the same situation.
Step 6: Be curious and genuine about what the other party will express. Listen and stay silent.
Step 7: Experience each situation from a new perspective.
This process will empower you and the other party while enriching your relationship. Reflect on the outcome you would like to happen. Envision it and review it prior to going through with it.
Next time you find yourself in such a conflict or separation with someone, remember that diversity of opinions generates creativity and innovative solutions. Ask yourself what you could build with two different ideas and how richer you could become. You could even come up with a third one. One that would satisfy not only you, but also a diversity of people.
This article was originally published at Conflict Management - Equanimity Executive. Reprinted with permission from the author.