Every one of them told me they wanted less of it. Understandably so. Conflict is uncomfortable. Often when people disagree they become aggressive and defensive, the atmospheric energy becomes tense and fraught with risk. Of disharmony, of enmity and even of harm.
But the truth is that all evolution requires change, even chaos, and often conflict.
The key is in how we receive it and respond to it, and how we manage ourselves and our communication in the process.
It helps me to remember that the two most positive words in the English language are ‘thank you’. Whenever conflict or debate arises, it’s an opportunity to look further than we can currently see. It may assault our ego, it might challenge our belief system, but it is a chance to shift perspective, even if momentarily. So if someone cares enough to argue with us, or to lodge a complaint, or even to offend us, it could be a gift. Just about everything is, I’ve found. So be thankful for all of it.
It could be that the two most destructive words in the English language (and I can think of a few other close contenders) are ‘I’m right’. Because they lock us in to a narrow mindset, they do not invite learning or discussion, they invalidate any other point of view, and they damage relationships.
And the two most useful? As a facilitator in many business environments, I’ve found it wise to use them a lot in over the years. ‘That’s interesting’. Because it always is.
Sometimes people think very differently to me. Sometimes it’s brilliant thinking. Sometimes it’s simply expansive. And sometimes, in my limited opinion, it’s weird. But it’s always interesting.
The opportunity to hear different input, to share even for a moment in another’s world, to expand our own mental horizons, is fascinating. We may not agree. We may go there for a quick look (or a long one) and come back to our original perspective. But we’ve at least shifted. The mind once expanded can never shrink back to its original limits, so we’ve grown. That’s enlightening.