Never be afraid of conflict
Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions."
..... Albert Einstein
I recently came across a brilliant article by Tammy Lenski  entitled How to Appreciate Workplace Conflict. It's so good I'm almost tempted to copy and paste the whole text here.. but I'll resist and just quote this gem before you go click over there:
Sure, it’s easy to name the problems with workplace conflict. Like the peel of a ripe banana, the problems are what you see first, in a color you can’t miss. Bite in and the taste won’t soon leave your memory. Yet if you peel back the outside layer of a conflict, you’ll find the sweet fruit of a vibrant organizational future."
Oh, this is so true. As Tammy explains in her article conflict leads to better decisions, to creativity, to learning and to engagement. I'd also add that it also builds commitment. Expressing more of who we are and what is important to us it is very liberating, and we naturally gravitate towards people and situations were we feel comfortable and free to do this.
Conflict is a good thing - it's how we learn and grow. But as Einstein suggests in the quote above, this is too big a mind shift for most people to make; and so we find that even the most enlightened of organisations tend to shy away from welcoming it outright. And yet conflict is the very grist of the organisational mill - without it nothing really significant happens.
We associate conflict with angst but in reality it's only our resistance to it that's painful. Conflict is never the problem, only our defensiveness. Instead of defending our point of view and resisting conflict we could just as easily choose to come together with a shared intent to explore the basis of our differences in order to see the underlying truths. This way we both learn... we get to see the bigger all-inclusive picture... and what we imagined divided us has actually brought us together. As Tammy quite rightly says, we choose how we view conflict. Whether it a gift or a curse is entirely down to us. It is simply a choice.
You may have recognized that anyone who decides to live a remarkable life tends to invite conflict - it sort of goes with the territory. But what's perhaps not so obvious is that these conflicts can be stepping stones for us... our opportunities for greatest gain. Approaching conflict lightly and defenselessly transforms it into greater understanding... a mutual benefit. We get to see a little more clearly, understand a little more deeply.. and not just about the issues at hand, but about our Self.
We might not get the answers we wanted or the outcome we expected, but there's always a mutual and permanent gain, often in a far wider context. As Frank Clark said, "We find comfort among those who agree with us, growth among those who don't."
.. I'm not at all qualified to talk about conflict resolution (I speak only from my own experience) but Dr. Tammy Lenski is. Her weblog, 'I can't say that' is dedicated just to this. And if you thought conflict resolution was a dry subject or something that doesn't apply to all us, you would be dead wrong - just explore this host of interesting articles catalogued here and you'll see what I mean.
.. Self-change* happens as we let go of what we think think we know and allow ourselves to experience more of 'what is'.
Many believe that our identity is made up of our knowledge, beliefs and imaginings... but this just doesn't stand up to examination. Knowledge, beliefs and imaginings are all temporary phenomena and change according to our perception of reality. But more significantly, they are also observable - we can at any moment step back and simply observe these things in our minds - we can watch thoughts come and go, we can be aware of our imaginings and beliefs and, if we wish, we can trace these things back to their source.
So if these three things are a part of who we think we are, then what is this entity.. this Presence, that has the ability to be aware of these things?
* Self-change is a misnomer really... we are perfect as we are but our belief in who we are does change as we allow ourselves to become open to a deeper realisation of our unlimitedness.
.. They say our greatest gurus are the ones who wind us up the most. ;-) We often don't tell our truth for fear of either alienating people or what they will think of us if we don't hold back... but when we come from a place of authenticity we find these fears are unfounded. We show others our true Self and essential humanness... and that is always attractive.
More than our words or any visual cues what really gets communicated is our intent - where we are coming from. The most fear ridden and sensitive subjects can be safely approached when we are coming from a position of Love. What often holds us back from doing this is fear of the unknown - '.. so how do I do this?, '.. what shall I say?' From my experience this state of 'not-knowing' is absolutely the best place to be; because by coming empty-handed and agenda-less we open ourselves to a deeper knowing and a healing power that we perhaps have never experienced before. We can trust that whatever words are needed will come at the moment they are needed, because they will. Just holding an intent that truth shine true is enough - any more and we tend to get in our own way.