I’ve done talks, co-written articles and published blogs about conflict. When I experience conflict, it never feels good or goes as smooth as I write about it on paper. But, conflict remains a tremendous learning tool.
Conflict can always be traced back to some original miscommunication, some perception difference. One person has a particular experience and the other person has theirs. Each experience is valid and the goal is to work through the conflict to validate all experiences and come up with an agreed upon solution.
Sometimes conflict stays in the conflict zone and neither party feels satisfied or validated and there is no mutual solution. This is incredibly uncomfortable but still very valuable. I don’t like when things stay in conflict, I like understanding and resolution, so I have to work hard to remind myself of the good that can come from staying in the discomfort.
The good comes from dissecting your own communication if you are unable to do it with the other. Start at the very beginning of all your interactions, listen to your tones, the words you chose, the places you thought you were clear, but really weren’t. Take responsibility for your outcome and be diligent. The purpose is just to learn, to see where your gaps are and have understanding. The goal at this point cannot be about resolution or you will miss the little details.
This kind of approach doesn’t make you feel better and doesn’t take away the crappier parts of conflict, but it does give you new perspective and sometimes a little bit of peace.
When all else fails, hit the heavy bag, or spar, because boxing always makes sense.