Hello Friday: Combat is Optional

Happy Friday! I hope you had a great week. Reflect back: did you have a differing opinion from anyone at work or in your personal life this past week? I’m sure you did 😊! Having different opinions is a given because we are all unique and see things through our lens. Expressing our opinions is an essential part of human interaction, important for idea generation and innovation, and critical for building and deepening our relationships. But, as we interact with one another, we must remember that we have different perspectives based upon our values, life experiences and individual mental maps and models that contribute to our understanding and interaction with the world around us.

Sometimes the moment we experience different opinions, the word CONFLICT comes rushing into our mind and the mere thought of having conflict with others often makes us cringe. Remember – conflict is inevitable because we are all wonderfully different and unique.

What if we reframed our thoughts about the definition of “conflict”? Maybe that would help us think a bit differently about this concept. So, what is conflict? The word “conflict” has many negative connotations, but in reality it is just, “two or more people having different opinions or views of a situation; and it matters to at least one of them.” If it didn’t matter to any of them, there would not be a conflict.

Many times conflict can turn into a negative experience or a full-on blowup. Thinking about conflict with a more productive lens might help you engage in discussions that are experienced differently. Remember to use these tips and see if your conflict discourse can result in more constructive outcomes:

  1. Don’t make assumptions. Many times we assume we know why the issue is important to the other party or how they understand the situation. Scrap that thought process - go into the conversation with an open mind; realizing each of your perspectives are different and important.

  2. Listen to understand, not to respond. Practice active listening. Realize that the opposing view may have different information or perspectives that you have not considered. Ask questions and TRULY seek to understand.

  3. Be respectful. It is important to remember that though you may not see eye to eye, your opinion is not superior to the opposing point of view. Also, remember to converse about the topic using constructive language.

  4. Focus on the issue, not the person. Remember that your goal is to resolve the problem; or understand the issue more deeply. It is not about winning or being at war with the other person.

Facing conflict head on can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be! Practice being transparent, open-minded, and talking it out. All teams and relationships face conflict. Use it as an opportunity to deepen your understanding of one another, strengthen your bonds and build more trust! 

Have a GREAT day and a GREAT weekend!

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