Over the years I’ve had the pleasure of participating in a number of different online groups with a wide variety of people that come from a wide variety of backgrounds. This has given me the opportunity to have many different discussions that run the gamut in terms of topics. Despite all of this diversity, I have noticed a trend amongst many of the people I’ve talked to:
You either love conflict, or you fear conflict.
Conflict in these situations has meant many things. Sometimes it’s a knock down, drag out flame war that is occurring on a message board. Other times it’s a simple misunderstanding that people are trying to work out. And during any situation that seems to have any sort of disagreement, no matter how civil or uncivil it may be, I’ve noticed that there is often at least someone who gets upset that conflict is occurring in any capacity at all.
The unfortunate truth of the matter is that in any group of people you ever have the pleasure or displeasure of being with, there will always be times of conflict. Always. Ask anyone that is married, or anyone that has siblings or kids. Look at your own life for an example. No two humans are going to approach anything exactly the same, and so there will always be times where people have disagreements or misunderstandings. It’s an inevitable part of life. And while I don’t condone making conflict simply for conflict’s sake, I do believe that many of us could stand to re-frame what conflict means to us and our community.
We talk about this a lot in our courses that I put together for work. Many of these courses are about how to manage a dental office and all of the people that work there, so it’s common for the discussion of conflict to come up because conflict is inevitable in the group of people we call a dental practice as well.
In many of these courses, it is stated that conflict is not actually a bad thing. Instead, we are taught that conflict is actually an opportunity to better understand whoever you are having a conflict with (or those you are mediating a conflict between). The more I’ve learned about managing conflict and working through conflict in a professional setting, the less I view it as a bad thing. More and more, it reminds me more of resistance training.
The idea of resistance training is simply that by forcing your muscles to contract against an external resistance (usually weights), you will in turn develop more muscle definition and tone. This is obviously a simplified definition of what resistance training is, but the general idea is there. By resisting the weight, the muscles grow.
We also see this in nature as well. Plants (I know, shocking) are one of the best examples that I can cite, which require experiencing stiff winds while still a sapling in order to grow a strong stalk. These plants have to learn to stand against the wind, and if you remove the resistance that helps them grow, you run the risk of having a plant that will snap at the first sign of a storm later on.
Even Osiris himself had to break free from the very snake that protected him during his transformation after death (see Rundle Clark’s “Myth and Symbol in AE” for more). Without some amount of struggle we can not expect to grow or expand our horizons. Even if we are born into a safe haven, at some point, we must experience some turbulence and difference in order to grow.
So what does this have to do with conflict?
Conflict usually consists of two differing viewpoints. And when you effectively navigate a conflict and said differing viewpoints, you would need to consider both viewpoints and discuss each of them thoroughly. Each party has to be open and honest about their feelings and thoughts on a certain situation or idea, and then by honestly and actively listening to each other, and calmly discussing what is on each others minds, both can begin to understand one another better. This mutual understanding broadens the horizons of those participating in the discussion or conflict – even if the discussion doesn’t result in 100% agreement by all parties, as conflict resolution doesn’t always equate to complete agreement with one another. This allows new ideas to be brought forward and worked through in a calm fashion. It allows people to build trust as more conflicts are resolved calmly and without major incident.
Through each conflict and successful discussion that follows, everyone is made stronger and better because more understanding is achieved. When people realize that they can bring up differing viewpoints, and know that the community or group won’t jump on them, but instead will discuss things calmly, that will build up trust and strengthen the community as a whole. These instances of resistance allows us to become stronger both independently and as a group.
Learning how to work through conflict, or understand the ins and outs of conflict can help turn resistance into growth. Likewise, learning when to walk away from a conflict can as well. And with any luck, as we learn more about one another and learn how to handle our differences with less yelling and flame wars, the stronger we can become as a community. Take a look at the links below to learn more about how to turn conflict into opportunity.
How do you view resistance and conflict? Do you see them as an opportunity or something to be avoided? Does conflict or resistance play a role in your involvement in the Kemetic community? If it does, how so?
- Conflict Resolution Skills
- Turning Workplace Conflict into Opportunity
- Conflict as Opportunity
- Resolving Conflict Rationally and Effectively