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Being involved in conflict situations provides each of us with profound opportunities to grow and learn. Sometimes this learning or other gifts we receive comes after hard labouring that can rock our world! We might not see that in the moment, but hopefully distance and increasing perspective allows us to process our past difficult situations and find that nugget. As a witness to conflict situations I have seen others presented with these gifts, as I have myself and thought I would share a few here.
- Awareness Building
Conflict helps us understand ourselves better and how others may perceive us. Awareness of ourselves transforms our ability to choose to ‘respond’ rather than ‘react’. We are empowered through our choices. It leads us to take ownership of our thoughts and feelings and actions instead of seeing them as being ’caused’ by another person or by a situation or experience.
- Skill Development
Having exposure to conflict helps us develop our conflict resolution skill set. Whether that’s improving our listening skills or becoming more direct in our communication. Empathy is “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another” And research has shown that empathy is not simply inborn but can actually be taught. We don’t always get to pick our teachers, but they often come disguised as difficult people or difficult situations. Strengthening empathy and communication skills has certainly been a gift for me.
- New Perspective
Taking time to really listen to the person you are in conflict with can create a fresh perspective. It’s like taking the blinders off and panning the camera back to see the situation in a whole new light. A glorious painting that can create some wonder in our world.
- Stronger Relationships
A concern I hear over and over from people who are reluctant to take part in a facilitated discussion with a co-worker, etc. is ‘what if it makes it worse?’ I can’t predict the outcome of any conversation, but in my experience a common comment after is “I feel like a weight has be lifted off my shoulders.” I’ve also encountered countless occasions where people feel that the conversation has strengthened a working relationship with a colleague, leader or friend. A real gift needed by many.
Difficult conversations take time, are messy and suck a lot of emotional energy. Staying in the messy can be hard because it is so uncomfortable and creates some psychological and at times, physical squirming. Human nature calls to us to find a solution as soon as a problem presents itself. This does not give us the opportunity to dig deeper and find out what is really going on. A quick solution is often a band-aid on a vast wound causing the issue to resurface again and again. The ability to persevere enables us to continue to build understanding and be wary of the allure of a quick solution.
I’ve deliberately made my list short because I want to hear from each of you. In conjunction with October’s Conflict Resolution Day I have launched a challenge for those with the courage and vulnerability to share. Please add the gift you’ve received from conflict below in the comments.
Providing a quick outline of your experience (no identifying information please) will give us some context before you share your gift. As a further incentive, all of those who indicate their name will be added to a draw for a gift directly from us at Workplace Fairness – a $50 gift card from Starbucks. Draw will be completed at the end of the day on October 21, 2021 – Conflict Resolution Day!