If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.
A great way to apply this idea is to conflict in relationships. If we change the way we look at conflict, the nature of it changes. And so does our personal capacity and creativity to make it useful.
The common view of relationship tension is that it’s bad and a source of stress. So what do we do? We avoid it. We marginalize it, deny it, tolerate and resist it. When conflict is something that we react to, it doesn’t leave much energy left to be clear about a vision or to methodically march toward it. This sort of reactivity to conflict also gives the person instigating it a lot of power over our energy and attention.
Seeing something differently is usually a stretch for anyone, and it is even more so when the ‘team troublemaker’ is blocking progress on something near and dear to your heart. But it is very possible, with focus and practice.
Here is a way to get started building this muscle:
Think of a time when you were the ‘conflict instigator.’ Spend a moment to remember the situation, the hotspots and how the conversation played out. Then ask yourself these questions:
- What was important to me about the situation?
- What were my good intentions?
- What was underneath the [my] ‘unproductive’ behavior that was trying to be helpful?
When you consider the possibility that someone else’s ‘bad’ behavior may be driven from good intentions and things they care about deeply, the tangle usually begins to loosen. From here, creative ways to work with differences bubble up, and the energy in the relationships naturally redirects itself so people can begin to move forward together.
What relationship tension is keeping the team from moving forward?
How could a new take on the motivation of the ‘conflict instigator’ boost your creativity?