What if We De-Personalized Conflict? Then What?

Feb 5

This week my nephew apologized for a posting on Facebook because he offended people with his strong opinions.  The actual post based on political viewpoints had caused several people to unfriend him. On Facebook, this doesn’t necessarily have long term effects. However, at work, it can and does. The challenge was that people who read his post and disagreed personalized it.

This happens all the time in the workplace. This is common in the non-profit organizations that I’m called to work with as some team members have strong passions for their work and see things differently from each other. Underneath this type of conflict is a deep commitment to doing the best for the clients, and yet, it can wreak havoc on the entire team.

The problem comes when we start to bring in judgment and decide the other person is flawed, not their point of view, but them as a person. Then the difference of opinion becomes a personal conflict of dislike. The only way to improve this situation is for the other person to change (as you assume you are in the right).

What needs to happen to resolve this?

  1. Self-Reflection. Be aware of your personal biases. I grew up believing that if I wasn’t “right” then I “was wrong.” This set me up to cower if others disagreed with me. What are your beliefs about having different opinions?
  2. What do you respect about the other person? Do a quick check in to help you realize that this opinion/point of view is only one aspect of the other person.
  3. Recognize that your opinion is only one way of looking at the situation. What other realities may also be true at the same time?
  4. Is it possible that you are both saying the same thing yet, saying it very differently?
  5. Ask “what part of me got triggered by this?” Then call your coach, healer or therapist and get some help to resolve your underlying challenges so that you can be more open to respecting other perspectives.

We’ve all see the pictures with the frog/horse; old hag/beautiful woman – in every situation there are a multitude of ways that we could respond, see the situation.

Breathe. Reflect. Honour Self. Honour the other person. Stay in full respect. Have a conversation to better understand the other person and see the validity in their point of view. Set your opinion aside temporarily until you fully hear the other’s story. Then consider co-creating a better option that may include aspects of all perspectives.