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Communication and Conflict Newsletter, Issue 17 - What's Your Greatest Conflict Challenge?
July 08, 2009
(....Or how, when I asked this question of 'tweeps' on Twitter I got an interesting range of responses ........)
Welcome to Newsletter no.17 - July 2009
First of all, my apologies that there was not a newsletter in June 2009. It was a busy month for many reasons and in the end I had to cancel the newsletter.
But back to business this month, and I have been asking people who follow my page on Twitter to respond to a survey question:
What is your personal greatest challenge in responding to conflict? What do you find most difficult to handle?
So how would you answer that?
Take a little time to consider the question?
Are you aware of the times you have the greatest difficulty or have you never really stopped to consider it?
Being aware of our responses to conflict is one of the most powerful steps we can take towards dealing with it effectively.
This may seem obvious but usually our ineffective responses to conflict are simply 'reactions', that is, we don't really decide on our response as a result of considering options.
The response is not a 'conscious' one, and this is often why we repeatedly experience similar types of conflict as we don't realise that our reaction has become habitual.
If you keep doing what you've always done, you keep getting what you always got..... as the saying goes.
So what were the responses to the Twitter survey?
Well of course, they varied quite widely but, by my interpretation, which of course will be just that and only that, there were 3 main ways in which it was responded to:
1. Some people responded as if the question was asking them how they handle or respond to others' conflicts. I guess quite a few of the people who follow my Twitter page are mediators or are involved in managing conflict between others and they responded from that perspective:
2. Some responded with examples of the kind of behaviour or the 'kind of people' they find difficult.
3. The remainder responded by referring to the difficulties they have with their own response to conflict or their own internal conflicts:
I guess one of the main observations I would make about the responses is that it confirms that none of us have the same difficulties with conflict.
We all have different responses to, and experiences of, conflict and so generalising about what constitutes 'difficult behaviour', and particularly 'difficult people' is impossible.
Well, perhaps it's not impossible to generalise but it can never be a generalisation that is valid. (Though sadly, many 'techniques' try to do this)
Most of us have excellent ways of responding to conflict and we do it well throughout each day. So well we don't even think about it.
But when those reactions don't work with a particular person's behaviour or a difficult situation, our consciousness has to be awakened if we are to find a constructive way forward. We have to make a new choice about how we respond as our trusted 'one size fits all' reaction ...... doesn't fit any more!
But sometimes we think there is no choice and that is when we get stuck.
The point is we have to create a new response.
I recently came across the above quotation, on Twitter in fact, and I was stunned by the revelation it caused in me. It brought much of what I see and work with as a mediator and conflict coach, and as a human being, into focus.
I have, for some time now, considered conflict as something that is inevitable rather than something that can be 'stopped' or 'avoided', but M.Esther Harding's statement describing it as the beginning of consciousness brought many of my thoughts about comnflict together for me.
Conflict as an opportunity, an awakening - any other way is trying to resist the inevitable, which is why we find it so tiring and stressful, and impossible, if we try to deny or fight against its presence.
When we are 'loving what is' as Byron Katie would say, we can be open to what conflict has to offer.
Conflict is not the problem
We often hear people say that they have a fear of conflict and do anything to ‘avoid’ it.
It is impossible to avoid conflict and the fear that people talk about is of the imagined destructive responses to it rather than the conflict itself.
When our repertoire of responses is limited and they don’t work, then it is understandable that we might fear conflict as we see it as the start of an escalating sequence of behaviours that can include anything from verbal abuse to extreme violence to ‘the silent treatment’ and emotional blackmail.
But this is unfair on conflict.
We are responsible for whether conflict leads to learning and greater closeness and rapport or whether it leads to war.
Conflict just is - whether we choose the latter or the former for our response.
All the time we say conflict is the problem it means we are not taking responsibility for our responses to it.
We are not acknowledging our ability to respond constructively - our response-ability in the face of conflict.
We disempower ourselves. No-one does it to us.
But there’s a potential upside to this:-
Recognition of our capacity to create more effective responses enables us to lose our fear of conflict or need to avoid it.
Many of us never consider that there may be a better way of responding to our conflicts and so we become reliant on others to 'change'. This is a hopeless aim.
Instead we can learn to embrace conflict and treat it as an opportunity for growth, learning, greater rapport with others.
Conflict can become a doorway to enrichment of our lives - the beginning of consciousness.
Connect with Alan on LinkedIn
or his Twitter page @alan_sharland
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Consultation via Skype.
Would you like:
If you have Skype and would like to arrange a consultation, please go to the Skype Consultation page to send me details of what you would like to discuss and proposed times to call me.
Skype to Skype calls are free from anywhere in the world so there will not be any telephone cost, just the fee for the consultation which is a fixed charge per minute.
Some links that you may find interesting......Work-stress-solutions.com by Stephanie Goddard - a website very much in line with the thinking of this site. Stressed Out at Work AGAIN? Work Stress Is NOT Caused By -Your Difficult Coworkers - Your Diet - Your Lack of Time...So What Causes Work Stress? Stress is caused by only one thing....the way you think. Stephanie has 2 great books: 101 Ways to Have a Great Day at Work and 101 Ways to Love Your Job
Mediate.com is an excellent resource of information relating to mediation. There are articles, links to websites and blogs as well as the possibility of locating mediators in your area.
SelfGrowth.com- - SelfGrowth.com is a comprehensive guide to information about Self Improvement, Personal Growth and Self Help on the Internet. It is designed to be an organized directory, with articles and references to thousands of other Web Sites on the World Wide Web.
Authentic-Self.com is a rich source of information, quotes and support to enable us to find and be true to ourselves.
Oh Wow This Changes Everything is a great site with an enormous number of links to articles about different aspects of effective communication and conflict resolution. Definitely worth a visit......you could be there for hours!
Kalavati.org helps people, like yourself, create change in their life and business.
They share fun stress management strategies and personal development articles.
This site is sooo full of great links and resources relating to Co-operative Communication skills - I would very much recommend it.
Learning Supersite is a fascinating site dedicated to the development of informal learning. "A new approach to learning, the Learning Supersite is a venue that provides personal learning community, but with state-of-the-art Web technologies."
Transforming Conflict is an excellent organisation which works with young people, and adults, in educational settings, promoting restorative approaches to conflict.
Aik Saath This is an amazing and interesting website, quite besides the work of Aik Saath that it promotes. Aik Saath works to promote conflict resolution skills in young people and the development and support of racial harmony in Slough, UK and its surrounding areas.
So, how did you like it?
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