You are not alone in wanting to avoid conflict. Most of us tend to avoid it. However, the potential for growth and self-discovery lies in conflict. That conflict is a chance to get to know the previously undiscovered sides of yourself. It may help your fear and discomfort about conflict change to excitement about personal growth.
When we work on conflict in groups, a useful attitude is that a group needs conflict in order to understand itself. Conflict may be the field's way of getting to know and appreciate its parts and of realizing its full self.
--From The Leader as Martial Artist, by Arnold Mindell
In a recent family conversation about how to support my mother after a fall in her kitchen, my sisters and brother and I had different ideas about how best to help her. We ended up putting five possible options on the table, options generated by our conversations with each other and with her caregivers.
The eventual solution, which turned out to be the perfect one for her (and us), was a combination of three of the five options we looked at. I was fascinated with how the process unfolded.
First of all, none of us got over-invested in our ideas. We put them out and advocated for them but were willing to look at the advantages of the other options. It was clear that each of us was more interested in helping my mother than in having the right answer. Our shared purpose in wanting Mom to "win" was greater than any individual need to win. It was very cool. Besides solving the problem, we also reinforced our common bonds as people who care a lot about our mom and each other.
As Spotify's Global VP of Design Rochelle King says in her online talk -- "Your Biggest Rival is Your Best Asset" -- one of the most effective tools to push forward the creative process is conflict.
Rochelle understood that in order to do her best job as a manager/mover of people and cutting edge technology, she had to learn to be comfortable with conflict. To appreciate the opportunity to see more than her slice of reality. Your biggest rival has good ideas. Why not bat things about and see if you can come up with a product or solution that neither of you would have found on your own?
With learning rather than winning as a goal, you will create great products, mend broken relationships, and find solutions more quickly.
You have to catch yourself at these things:
wanting to advocate
convinced you have the best solution
talking more than listening
persuading, cajoling, manipulating
debating only to win
demeaning others ideas
If you can catch yourself, you'll stop for the time it takes to breathe and create a ki moment.
So that you can:
ask open ended questions
learn about what you don't know
ask more questions
seek first to understand
acknowledge what you hear
make their argument for them
look for solutions
These are actions that take awareness and practice. And in time, you will change, you'll be a different person. You won't even notice it happening. You'll just begin to have a more calm, centered, creative, and peaceful life. And things, oddly, will go your way without even trying.
Our greatest learnings often come when we are unaware that we are leaning something. We can study a technique or focus upon a project for days, and the truth or the essence of it just does not seem to click. Then something happens. The fog clears and we notice that we have moved to a new level of truth without ever knowing how we got there. It was not our straining or trying that brought us to this new level. It was our willingness to be aware of what had already taken place that opened new doors.
--From Meditations for Women Who Do Too Much, by Anne Wilson Schaef