Monday, November 3, 2014

Conflict and How to Deal With It ... Part One

It is inevitable that you will experience conflict with someone close to you. Conflict happens at home with your spouse, your children, in-laws, or other family members. At work you might lock horns with a manager, colleague, and, perhaps, a patient or family member. The purpose of these posts is to explore conflict and suggest means to resolve it. Part One is about the basics of conflicts. I am sure you will identify with much of what is written. Conflict arises from differences, both large and small. It occurs whenever people disagree over their values, motivations, perceptions, ideas, or desires. Sometimes these differences appear trivial, but when a conflict triggers strong feelings, a deep personal need is often at the core of the problem. These needs can be a need to feel safe and secure, a need to feel respected and valued, or a need for greater closeness and intimacy. The culture of 2014 is filled with tension and fear. People today fear failure, losing their job, and societal issues (such as, healthcare or lack thereof; the economy; terrorism). Your colleagues come to work every day carrying emotional baggage from any number of sources. Perhaps it was an argument with a spouse or teenaged child, or awareness that their personal finances are not doing well, or a concern that their car might not make it through the day and repairs are unaffordable, or from some other stressor. They are emotionally vulnerable. It would not take much to push them over the edge. You’ve noticed they are distant or at least not like themselves. Their words are few, their sentences short. They don’t make eye contact much if at all. When they talk about the company it is negative. Nothing is good. It is all bad. Their perception is that no one cares about them. And, then, it happens. The wrong thing is said or something is said with a tone that conveys a harsh message. Their defenses shred. And, they react. A conflict is birthed. Part Two will focus on the issues involved in conflict and an approach that hopefully will result in a win-win resolution.

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