Recently I heard a quote that got right to the heart of conflict and how to resolve it. I’m paraphrasing, but it was along the lines of “conflict does not rise out of a clash of good and bad, it arises out of a clash of good and good.” In other words, each conflicting party always believes their position is good and right, putting to rest the notion of “good vs. evil.” With that perspective in mind, it may become easier to resolve conflict at work, home or anywhere you encounter it.
For instance, there’s an important issue that needs to be resolved about a project you’re working on with a colleague. You’ve tried talking about it, but emotions run high, tempers flare, common ground is illusive. One of you goes silent. The other becomes aggressive, on the attack. The good vs. bad lines are drawn in both your minds, and neither of you is willing to put all of your cards on the table. The full story goes underground, covered up by fear, self-doubt, suspicion, competition, control and power-seeking.
The best way to resolve situations like this is actually to get more information out into the open. This will lead to a solution that works for all involved. Engage in dialogue. Put all of your cards on the table. Openly share your thoughts and feelings about the matter at hand – even if you believe the way you see the issue doesn’t make logical sense. Don’t hide or withhold your point of view, put it into the mix. Then, in the words of Steven Covey, listen to understand.
If you both listen to really get what the other is thinking and feeling, you’ll make progress with mutual understanding and, with that, a solution will become self-evident.