Positive Path Recommended Reading

Getting Comfortable With Conflict
By Sarah Cornally

When you think of conflict, what images spring into your mind?

Do you think of tension, anger, bullying, stubbornness, pain, hurt, discomfort, power struggles, confusion? Or do you think of passion, diversity, challenge, opportunity, growth, development, evolution, learning, discovery?

How do you define conflict? The meaning you attach to it will determine how well you are able to engage with conflict and make it work for you.

Have you ever seen two people arguing over something and you notice they are both saying the same thing just in different ways? It is as if they are expecting opposition, so they only hear opposition. They are not really trying to understand each other's point of view, they simply want to make sure they are heard.

What most of us don't realise is the majority of conflict is about the different way we understand things. If we could engage in a conversation in which we explored our different understandings, looking for the common ground, we would discover there is not much difference afterall. Although different people, consider different aspects, with different emphasis. Sometimes all we need to do is understand everyone's perspective and in the end we understand the whole issue. That enables us to act wisely.

Here are some tips for getting comfortable with conflict;

1. Don't be afraid of conflict. Practice seeing it as passion in action, energy to be channelled for everyone's benefit. Think of it as a chance to understand things better.

2. Find out what the resistance is about. Do you have different objectives or is the process the issue?

3. Build a relationship with the person. Tell them what your real intention is and show you are concerned about them too. Don't assume they know.

4. Remember conflicts are emotional exchanges not rational ones; so address the emotions first and logic will gradually become available. Notice yours but don't let them control your actions.

6. Imagine what it is like to be in the other person's shoes. Pay attention to everything the other person has to say, even the way they say it.

7. Refrain from scoring points or putting people in their place.

8. Make sure the person knows your position, what's important to you and what you feel.

9. Keep your attention on the outcome you want that will work for both of you and guide the conversation there.

10. Keep breathing and stay calm. Be prepared to let things go which are not crucial.

A relationship becomes more secure after a genuinely resolved conflict. So when conflicts happen, use them to build stronger relationships, to learn, discover and grow. They can be a path to achievement, even wisdom, if you let them.

About the author: Sarah Cornally trained as an Occupational Therapist. With17 years experience she specialised in Occupational Rehabilitation & Injury Prevention. For 20 years she has consulted to government, industry & commerce on how to achieve outcomes through people. Her clients include the Who's Who of business. She has presented on many leadership programs including St James Ethics Centre's Sir Vincent Fairfax leadership awards program. Her business, Leading People, advises and coaches leaders on how to shape people's performance to turn their visions into reality. She is National President of the National Speakers Association of Australia (2000-2002). Visit http://www.sarahcornally.com for more information. 

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