Hi it’s Caroline here from Wide Eyed, I hope you are all well.  As you can hear I am getting a little bit better, it’s been lingering for some time.  Today I want to talk about conflict and one of the things I think’s interesting about the word conflict is that it can mean quite different things for people.

If I first off give a little definition about what I think conflict means, certainly in the work context.  And that’s the acceptance of different perspectives, the willingness to have a disagreement in a civilised constructive manner and then being able to reach compromise.

I think for sometimes when people think about conflict they think about the shouty aggressive that sides of things and I think that is when conflict is broken down, when people can’t handle different perspectives and feel threatened and that’s when they get into that very kind of anxious, competitive, combative state, rather than acceptance of a disagreement and a different perspective.

So today when I think about conflict I am thinking about it in terms of a different perspective rather than that combative thing.  And it’s been interesting because when I see conflict fail, when it has become combative where leaders have been I guess quite frankly uncivilised towards each other, unprofessional quite shouty, very angry then it makes it very difficult for them and their teams to work together and it’s almost like every time when something happens, no matter how trivial they react to it.

Again it’s that threat response, they are fighting it because they think they are under threat and when I brought teams together, team leaders together in conflict often the issue is, initially they don’t trust each other, they think someone’s is trying to do something to them in some way.  Some Machiavellian, behind closed door saying things that they are probably not saying and then there is that sense of forgiveness.  So, when they have had a falling out actually allowing that to go and move forward, so kind of holding onto that.

My reflection about conflict, because it is certainly something I would kind of avoid and I think that’s because the word doesn’t resonate with me.  But then I thought about, about accepting disagreements, accepting different perspectives I then reflected what was happening and how useful it could be, in fact how imperative it is for highly performing teams.

So my first thought is how do you spot you are avoiding conflict.  And I have a few things around this, one thing is if you are being really polite and dancing around the issue, if you are really not getting to the point, not being succinct about what it is then there is a real chance that you are trying to avoid conflict.  If you find yourself speaking about someone rather than to them, then you are again probably in a state of avoiding conflict or avoid a different perspective and a disagreement.  And if there is any sort of sense of disquiet discomfort where you feel you are holding back then again it is probably a good indicator something is going on that needs addressing.

So my second thought is what benefit is from embracing conflict and I think there is two aspects of this, one is that it’s about really learning to appreciate and listen without judgement on someone else’s different perspective.  And I have talked about this in previous sessions around listening skills and that sense of being able to just listen to someone even if there point is completely sort of counter to yours.  Really understand what is going on rather than just getting yourself ready to jump in.  And actually then once you start to understand where the person is coming from, then the second point is you move into compromise and actually see some merits in what they are saying.  And I have definitely seen this in two people with great conflict, where they actually started to listen to each other it turned out that they wanted the same thing, but because they were kind of taking what each other was saying so literally, they weren’t really listening to the content and the essence of what they were trying to say.

And my third thought is, actually without conflict we are restricting ourselves from innovation and creativity point of view.   If we just stick to our instincts, the mundane, the usual day to day then we are not going to be challenged and we are not then going to allow ourselves to think in a wider context. And I often think about this in the fast and slow thinking, fast thinking can of course be very useful and very powerful but often it means we stick with what we know and the instincts and all those other things that happen related to fast thinking.  So it doesn’t allow us to move out of our comfort zone, and it often means that we maybe react negatively to a different perspective.  Whereas when we cogitate and slow thinking and actually we can start to see some merits and useful thinking in the different perspective.

So that’s it really, love to hear your thoughts.

How to notice you are avoiding conflict, embracing  conflict and seeing the power of it and then expanding on that and seeing the use for innovation and creativity, a little bit of stepping out of your comfort zone.

Always love to hear your thoughts and again I have got loads of videos if this one is of interest then please take a look at those and like my page, my Wide Eyed Group Facebook page.  That’s it for today and I will see you next week where I will expand on this and talk about difficult conversations and how to have them.  See you then, bye bye.

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