Conflict Has a Reputation. Are You Tarnishing Or Burnishing It?Share via
For most people, conflict has a reputation for leading to hurt feelings, damaged relationships, and wasted energy. It’s no surprise when we look back at the role-models we had for conflict growing up, or the examples we see in popular culture or current events.
Most people tarnish the reputation of conflict. This is unfortunate because conflict isn’t inherently bad. Conflict is simply the gap between what we want or need and what we are experiencing at any point in time. How we handle this gap is what defines us, and defines conflict.
Struggle is inherent in conflict because it’s human nature to work towards what we want. How you struggle determines whether conflict will be tarnished or burnished.
Tarnish by Struggling Against
You’ve decided that someone must win, someone must lose. It’s probably important that you keep telling stories about yourself and the opponent so that you can keep feeling justified that you are right about your position. This leads to violence and tarnishes conflict’s reputation.
Tarnish by Struggling Instead-Of
You’ve appointed yourself the savior by doing the thinking and work for others. Great idea if you want to continually feel unappreciated and resentful. This leads to martyrdom and tarnishes conflict’s reputation.
Burnish by Struggling With
This is the definition of compassion, from the Latin root meaning “to struggle or suffer alongside.” Suffering With assumes shared responsibility for outcomes, equal worthiness and dignity. This is the most difficult of the three and burnishes conflict’s reputation.
Two of these will give you a short-term rush of self-justification and make things worse in the long run. One of them is hard at first and the long-term rewards are great.
Would you like to help redeem conflict’s reputation? Here are two podcasts to get the ball rolling:
Copyright 2016, Next Element Consulting, LLC
Continue your journey with our latest book, Conflict Without Casualties: A Field Guide for Leading With Compassionate Accountability. This book is the foundation for our Leading Out of Drama program, a comprehensive system for building cultures of compassionate accountability.