Take seventy-five-plus eighteen to twenty-two-year-old women from countries and cultures all over the globe. Put them in one group, wake them up before dawn six days a week, every week throughout the academic year, repeatedly stress their bodies so they are continuously in a state of fatigue, and you can imagine that it doesn’t take much to stimulate conflict.
When coaching our team, rather than dread the arrival of conflict, we would expect it and embrace it. Conflict, after all, is just the friction created by differing points of view. It is a great opportunity to learn and grow, if you are ready and able to take conflict and turn it into a conversation.
Sadly, our reaction to conflict often magnifies its impact. In our desire to avoid what we anticipate will be an uncomfortable conversation, we discuss our conflict with everyone other than the person it involves. We cement our perspective within our own mind as we continually repeat the narrative we have created about the situation at hand.
Conflict is just a conversation needing to be had, and the conversation needs to be had by the people in conflict. If you are one of the parties in conflict, remember that we all see the world differently. Seeking to understand goes a long way towards resolving many issues. Often when you take this critical first step, you realize that you don’t need to be understood after all. If you do still feel the need to deliver your “truth,” try to speak it with a soft heart.
I’m a big believer in the idea that we are all far more alike than we are different. I also work hard to remember that whatever behavior we are witnessing from another, most people aren’t purposely working to harm or annoy; this is just the best they can do with what they have in the moment. When I remember these things, conflict becomes an opportunity for increased understanding and connection, and ultimately for growth.
What conflict is going unaddressed in your system? Whose curiosity is needed to turn it into some growth?