Conflict Transformation

Published  10 months ago

Conflict Transformation for Thriving Communities

How many members is your community made up of? Have you ever thought about when you started, be
it a business, family or any other group compared to now? Has this number continued to grow as time
passes? These individuals come from various walks of life, different backgrounds, different cultures,
different races, and they are of different ages and generations.

This is what makes each member unique and because of the unique characters coming together, we can
use these differences to build an amazing community or brand.

What comes to mind right away when you hear the word conflict? Scary, not fun, a hassle, a necessity,
something you would rather avoid, something you need to tackle head on?

We need to be aware that there is a completely different even transformative way of thinking about
conflict. How you think is going to completely determine your success with conflict. The most amazing
relationships, companies, countries and homes have been able to stand firm by managing conflict.

Understanding Conflict Styles:

As Thomas Crum puts it, the quality of our lives depends not on whether or not we have conflicts, but on
how we respond to them. There are many ways in which we can choose to approach conflict within the
spaces that we operate.

Some will approach conflict either by avoiding it, competing with it or accommodating it. I wonder which
one among these three options you are most likely to identify with. No one amongst us was born in any
of these categories. As we interact with people from different backgrounds, we sort of learn or adapt
ways of dealing with conflict which we then continue to reinforce.

Avoiders

Do you run away from conflict? Does conflict make you feel extremely uncomfortable? Have you tried
confronting conflict in the past with results you weren't happy with?

Avoiders deliberately ignore or withdraw from a conflict rather than face it. Avoiders do not seem to
care about their issue or the issues of others. People who avoid the situation hope the problem will go
away, resolve itself without their involvement or rely on others to take the responsibility.

Competitors

Do you have to be right? Do you use reason and logic in all arguments so that you can show your point
of view is valid? Do you prefer to not back down from a fight?

Competing is a style in which one's own needs are advocated over the needs of others. It relies on an
aggressive style of communication, low regard for future relationships, and the exercise of coercive
power. Those using a competitive style tend to seek control over a discussion, in both substance and
ground rules.

Accommodator

Do you engage in conversations where there is disagreement, but always leave the conversation
allowing the other person or people to have their way? In the end does it seem like other people are
always satisfied while you are left with not feeling satisfied?

Accommodators are more inclined to be less assertive and highly cooperative. They prefer to avoid
conflict and want to be liked by others.

You may identify with one of the mentioned behaviors or even two or three based on the nature of
conflict.

Embracing Conflict Transformation:

As Business owners, members of teams, families among other communities within which we operate,
what is our desired conflict mindset?

Instead of viewing conflict as something bad or something to avoid, we should view it as something that
we love to engage with in order to create a brand-new lens and perspective. Conflict could be an
opportunity for something great to happen.

As uncomfortable as conflict may be and as unnatural as it may feel to welcome conflict, this is the
muscle we must exercise in order for conflict to benefit us. Every conflict we face in life is rich with
positive and negative potential. It can be a source of inspiration, enlightenment, learning,
transformation, and growth-or rage, fear, shame, entrapment, and resistance. The choice is not up to
our opponents, but to us, and our willingness to face and work through them. – Kenneth Cloke

Sustaining Productive Conflict:

Productive conflict can be defined as an open exchange throughout which different ideas and conflicts
are impartially heard. The parties involved are left feeling respected and comfortable enough to voice
their opinions in future. The reward for productive conflict is that it preserves relationships rather than
destroying them which is critical for professional and personal success.

Empathetic Engagement and Constructive Feedback: How can we ensure that we sustain productive
conflict in our engagements?

We need to be empathetic and practice active listening. This will help the other person feel understood.

We need to endeavor to give constructive feedback. Try by saying something that is going well, then say
what is not working, finally end with something else going well. Instead of telling people what they
should do, use phrases like have you thought of, or you may want to consider, or I recommend.

Taking Responsibility and Fostering Harmony: Let us avoid blame game and take responsibility. Acknowledge what you could have done better, what you have learned or apologize if needed. This will
diffuse any emotions and help the other person calm down.

And finally, never take anything personally. Stay committed to the main goal. Stay committed to the
outcome of walking away with a mutual plan and way ahead. As Steve Goodier, founder of Your Life
Support System puts it, we don’t get harmony when everybody sings the same note. Only notes that are
different can harmonize. The same is true with people.

In all these, always remember, you are part of a team driven to achieve one objective!!