Conflict, Curiosity, and Compassion

Creative Abstract Success, Perspective Vision, Marketing, Strate

What exactly is Conflict?


It is a concept that is often viewed as negative and is associated with danger or high risk. There is a perception that we are going to lose something if in conflict, so people’s egos create stories that necessitate the need to avoid it. Often at all costs (at least that is what the ego says).

I worked with an agency that so incredibly conflict-avoidant that there was zero trust in the organization. Gossip abounded as individuals sought allies in their version of the truth. In this process, they were “RIGHT”, so their ego could stay intact. The challenge was that in this process they became incredibly stuck and were unable to move forward with any new ideas if, in fact, they could find the creativity in this culture of stuckness.

Instead of exploring potential differences (otherwise called conflict in their personal ego stories) silos were created based on points of view. So each time one of them was challenged by another, they could simply reach out to the silo of allies and feel “RIGHT” again. Once again, any attempts at making real change were stymied.

While this is an extreme example, the process of avoiding conflict is a common theme for many individuals – whether in their work life, home life or volunteer pursuits. Including serving on Boards of Directors where everyone went with the status quo and growth of the agency was highly limited.

What if we challenged the inner dialogue about conflict and really looked at it. What are we losing by our avoidance? What might be best served by leaning into a difference of opinion and exploring the other perspective with someone filled with curiosity?

During Executive Coaching sessions, I often challenge my clients to explore what the motivators are for the other party – and often discover that the other person is attempting to reach very similar goals. They are simply expressing the action steps of the goal in a different way. Once they discover this level of compassion for the other person, relationships deeply shift to respect and collaboration.

My definition of “conflict is a process that creates an opportunity for powerful and dynamic solutions.” 

So, I invite you to consider how might you use curiosity to lean into a difference of opinion, and shift your definition of conflict to deeply explore another person’s perspective today?
How might you use compassion for the other person and for yourself to create a deeper, more trusting relationship?

If you are working on a Board of Directors or in an organization that is stuck in unexpressed conflict, let’s have a conversation about how I can help shift the operational definition of conflict and get the ideas flowing again with deep respect, curiosity, and compassion for one another.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>