Conflict in any walk of life, whether it be among family, within business, education, government, or between countries and/or religious ideologies is a major obstacle to the way of life we all aspire to live and experience. Think of how things might be if we were able to resolve conflict in more productive and efficient ways.
So how can productive conflict be accomplished you might be thinking while we experience a world held captive by a deadly uncontrollable virus?
First you must clarify what conflict means. For the many people we have observed involved in conflict, their behavior indicates conflict is more about emotionally charged opposition about being right than finding an acceptable resolution. So, for purposes of this “reminder”, we will be defining conflict as simply “a difference in points of view and/or opinions.”
Let’s begin by considering Henry Ford's advice shared many years back. He said that one of the keys to successfully influencing another person is to learn about the other person's point of view and truly taking time to see things from that person's perspective.” He said this because he believed another person’s point of view is valid due to it being based on what he or she has experienced, knows and/or believes. We refer to Henry Ford's keen insight as “the world is as you are, not as it is.” In other words, we each see same things differently.
Next, you will need to be accepting of another person’s viewpoints. And accepting does not mean agreeing. This is where most of us stumble, as the belief is that if the other person’s view is different than ours, it’s wrong. And when you hold onto this right/wrong belief, what typically follows is argument or debate. We view this as unnecessary and unproductive struggle of proving and defending which usually becomes an emotionally charged experience. So how to avoid this unnecessary struggle is the question.
We believe that when you can accept another person's point-of-view, different from your own, as being neither right nor wrong/good or bad, you will feel a sense of freedom to discuss choices and options as opposed to a need to convince the other person that his or her view point is wrong while your view is correct. Oh, we can hear you now. “You just don’t understand, let me tell you why my view is the only one that makes sense, or I have research to back it up or my experience tells me that… not only is mine right, but theirs is clearly wrong...”
Multiple examples of this unproductive and unnecessary struggle would be the debates and disagreements that are occurring at our highest levels of our government during this viral pandemic that has crippled the world as never before. Each side argues their point with statements that portray the other side’s view as wrong. Think about that. Wouldn’t it be more productive if both sides could understand the other side's point of view, accept it as valid, then be free to discuss the consequences, choices and opportunities in a very different spirit and mindset. We believe we all want the same thing from our government, that being the freedom to choose a way of life that promotes healthy prosperity for all people in a collaborative and inclusive manner. And how to accomplish that, quite frankly, won’t be known until we can look back after a decision has been made and see what worked and what didn’t work.
Simply put, this unique thought-style about conflict frees people to see the world beyond their current views of reality. And when you understand what conflict really is, that it’s more about resolution than being right or proving another person wrong, you can use conflict as learning experiences and move forward in ways that alternative choices become the fuel for informed decisions, impactful solutions and more meaningful relationships.
In the Spirit of Learning through Life…
Jimmie and Charlie Watson
"The Engineers of Life"