Conflict is good!

What is a conflict? 

Let's accept it, conflict is good (when it is in the right direction) and can be hugely motivating factor for development.  Humans evolved into what we are today because there was a continues conflict that caused innovation.  So its not all that bad :-).  

 I remember the friction inside me as a kid growing up was about , "How come almost everyone other than me have a better life or better access to money for their needs", and that made me study well, challenge myself on continuous basis and made me what I am today.

I was reading this book, "Conflict Resolution Playbook" by  Jeremy Pollock and it took almost a day for me to complete reading of the book (I might have partially skipped couple of chapters). Its amazing book on this topic (having read no other book on  this topic yet).

Conflicts often lead to "fight or flight" situation, either people become defensive (and then stop really applying reasonable logic to resolve but build logic to defend to be "right") or  try to run away from those situations, resulting in low confidence and lower productivity.

Conflict Types

Conflict for me are 3 types.

  • Conflicts within.
  • Conflicts with the next person
  • Conflicts with everyone and everything else.

Conflicts within

This can be good and bad, sometimes you are too nice to everyone else and put the rest of the world above your own self.  It may be just the appreciation that you receive in return keeping your ego happy but resulting in internal conflict within self.  Why am I doing so many favors? why is that I am scarifying my own life for everyone else who may never care for me or may not even recognize what I am doing for them.  It may be your character to be nice, but be within your limits, some times, it is OK to say No and be assertive and actually other people may really appreciate that. No one is here to steal all your time and attention and life. 

Other type of conflicts could be that, why my grades are less, why is that someone else is getting promoted and I am not, why is it taking too long for me to complete this task where as other person X is doing it too fast?  Finding answers to these questions or trying to improve as a result of this conflict is actually going to be positive outcome!.

Conflicts with the next person

Conflicts with sibling, parent(s), spouse or colleague are too common. Many times the conflicts are accidental. 
  • Miscommunication:  
    • Communication that is not done or done wrong. May be if you understand  other person better, your response could have been different avoided the conflict?
  • Timing
    • May be your partner is not ready to talk about a topic, but you bring it up anyway and seek something out of that person  and when you don't get a response you anticipated, you grow friction.
  • Out of context
    • If you do not understand the context, it leads to gap in communication and lets you fill in the blanks with your own views resulting in conflict.
  • Trust :  
    • If you do not trust someone, then you grow conflict for no mistake of you or that person, trust plays a vital role in everyone's life.  
  • Ambience:  
    • Environment where communication takes place matters,  You may not mind  your boss pointing out at your mistake during a 1-1 but if that happens in front of everyone, you may get into conflict mood, your boss may not intend to insult you and think she is doing right thing by being direct, but  yes it does hurt when it happens in front of everyone. 
  • Stress: 
    • If you are stressed out and someone comes and asks you something, your response may start a conflict.  You know you don't want to respond that way but it just happened?
  • Tone and physical gestures:   
    • You may have a valid point but the tone and/or your physical gestures may cause more trouble and bring a solution.
  • Spoken vs Written: 
    • Sometimes you have to speak through problems than writing them into email, since not every expression can be be written and lot of fill in the blanks happen depending on who is reading or when is he/she is reading.  May be speaking to that person is a best approach.  
    • Sometimes writing could be best, since as you start talking some times the first topic drives whole of the conversion where as your 5th topic was too critical and needed more attention. 

Conflicts with everyone and everything else

  • Conflicts with upper level management :  
    • May be your upper level management making decisions that you do not approve. May be they push some decisions on you without seeking any inputs or views from you.  Could be that there was a genuine reason behind it, may be if we didn't hit this goal, we could all possibly lose our annual bonus or pay raise.   May be it was inconvenient decision but because it not communication well, you lost trust with the upper management and think its wrong. 

  • Conflicts with a govt  or organization decision
    • Vaccine mandate made truckers protect
    • Why is face masks not a must in my school district?
  • Conflict with everyone's behavior
    • Why is that most people are not wearing masks and covid cases are increasing? 
  • Conflict about a situation in far away country
    • What happened in Iraq or Afghanistan may affect your thought process.  This kind of conflict is indirect and doesn't affect your life too much unless you are somewhere connected to the situation.

Conflict resolution Techniques.

Some simple techniques help a healthy conflict resolution or avoiding conflicts.
  • Listen
  • Seek
  • Tone
  • Physical gestures
  • Ambience
  • Spoken vs written
  • Appreciate in public and criticize in private


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