The last thing anyone wants at work – or at home - these days is conflict. Not that I’m implying we would want it at any other time! It’s just that our reality right now seems more unpredictable, uncertain and unfamiliar than any time before, which tends to result in us more readily slipping into survival mode. While this will in turn tend to make us more likely to be emotionally defensive and/or aggressive, it will also bring on more angst and uneasiness, making us less willing to make waves, and so prone to being both risk averse and conflict aversive. This is a cycle that, while natural and understandable, may not serve us in the long run!
We don’t necessarily need studies to demonstrate this, but they can help, and many studies, (most recently an Organizational Psychology study), have found clear evidence that if we avoid conflict – if we withdraw or suppress it, or try to smooth it over – conflict runs the risk of seething under the surface, and coming out much worse later on. (We all know this on some level, but such formal studies can give us more confidence to act on what we innately know!)
The thing about conflict that creates avoidance is that conflict is unpleasant, it doesn’t feel good in the moment, and it can also be a contradiction to our values! However, if we can be mindful within the conflict, if we can manage our emotions so our brain stays ‘switched on’ and mindful, conflict can be used to create a tension, an energy that ‘gets things done’. It can also create learning about how we can improve and do better. Most importantly, it is within a conflict that we can capture the differences and diversity that make the group or family a strong unit at the outset!
The key, of course, is to manage our emotions well enough that we can stay true to our values and be mindful of the value of the conflict itself, so it becomes an energy that propels us forward, a tension that helps us act or ‘perform’ better, be more authentic, learn about each other and keep communication open, thereby avoiding those subtle and insidious behaviors like manipulation, subversion and intrigue – now there’s a real cause to be uneasy!!
For tips on how to manage your emotions better, go to Articles, or read any of the books for sale in our Shop – excerpts from all will be posted soon on this website!