The Energy For Real Change Is Where You Least Expect It
Sixth grade teachers at the Chartiers Valley School District are passionate about their students. In particular, they want to help kids develop healthy ways to negotiate differences and disagreements. Conflict skills are a critical social-emotional competency.
I recently spent an afternoon with these teachers sharing our message of Compassionate Accountability. Next Element is partnering with CVSD to develop age-appropriate curriculum to teach positive conflict skills. Their curiosity and enthusiasm was infectious!
The teachers posed this question to me; “Can conflict lead to change?” A weird as it sounds, I had never really considered this. We work in the field of behavior change, so it’s an absolutely legitimate question. After some reflection, here’s what I came up with for an answer.
Can conflict lead to change? It depends.
There are two kinds of conflict. Only one of them creates change.
Drama is what happens when conflict energy is used to justify negative behavior. This kind of conflict ensures that nothing changes, because the ultimate motive is to avoid accountability and keep doing the same thing.
Drama reinforces the status quo.
Compassionate Accountability is what happens when conflict energy is used to struggle with others to co-create something new. This type of conflict necessarily leads to positive change.
Compassionate Accountability sparks creative change.
So, conflict can either reinforce the status quo of self-justification or it can spark real change. It depends how you use it.
This article I wrote for Fast Company takes aim at four counterproductive myths about conflict.
Would you like tools to harness the power of conflict to spark change? We can help.