Here’s a curious thought.
We grieve the loss of conflict.
That is to say that when we commit to turning our backs on conflict, when we commit to walking away from the conflict itself and instead choose to return to better relationships at work, or home, we can grieve for what we have left behind.
How can that possibly be?
Being “In Conflict” might be commercially inefficient, damaging to relationships and our own health AND at the same time it provides great comfort to the individuals concerned.
When we have conflict in the workplace, or conflict at home, the state of being in conflict provides succour. It does this by endowing us with superhuman powers of self justification and righteousness.
We are capable of convincing ourselves of almost anything when conflict is with us. And because conflict drives us to speak so passionately about the issues we disagree with, it appears that we are able to convince others as well. (Note. Very often we do not convince others. All that happens is that others see that we are in a highly agitated state and perceive that it would be unsafe to challenge the conflict driven views)
Ah, my dear, loyal friend Conflict. May you never leave my side for what would I be without you?
Vulnerable. That is what.
Vulnerable to the possibility that I might have misunderstood the situation.
Vulnerable to the fact that I might have lost control or let conflict lead me to act in ways that I am not proud of.
Vulnerable to the fact that I might have let myself down.
Vulnerable to the fact that I might have to take a fair share of responsibilty for the situation that we find ourselves in and most poignantly, vulnerable to the fact that I let conflict get in the way of our commitment to work together, really well, for the advancement of our company, our mission and purpose.
There is real personal risk in resolving conflict. Often it is not the risk of physical harm, but a risk to our pride and the risk of feeling shame, embarrassment and even remorse. There is the risk that resolving conflict recasts us as active participants once again in whatever shared endeavour we find ourselves in, with all the responsibilities that go with that active role.
There is the risk that we ourselves might have to change.
Is it any wonder therefore that sometimes it is easier to stick with the conflict and not resolve to shake off the armour it provides?
How can we encourage those we work with to do just that?