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3 Simple (But Difficult) Truths about Everyday Conflict

Conflict is around us every day. I routinely talk about conflict to repeatedly remind people around me that we can all grow and better handle conflict that occurs each day. Conflict is everywhere. And at its core, conflict occurs because there is a negative energy that is created by the gap between what we want and what we experience in any given situation. We may see this with our spouse in how we handle parenting. One parent may want their child to finish the food on their plate, while another may let them get something else to eat. We may see this with our children’s teachers when we have a differing opinion on how a child was disciplined after a negative behavior. We may see this with a coach when we don’t agree with how they coached a game or who they put on the starting lineup. Or we may see this at work with someone who is not carrying their weight, or someone who handles things differently than we would.

I may be belaboring the examples a bit, but there are so many kinds of conflict and not all of it ends in a fight. Some tension is microwavable and some is crockpot conflict. What I mean is that some conflict erupts quickly, while other conflict might build slowly over time. Neither kind is good, and both often cause us to act in ways we wouldn’t normally act. It is in those times of anger that we must pause and do three key things:

  1. Do not focus on the conflict or the disagreement.

  2. Instead, focus on the commonalities.

  3. Find a solution and resolve the conflict.

These three truths are easy to understand, but extremely challenging in the midst of a tense situation. They need to be the center of our focus every time, regardless of whom the conflict involves. As I tell our AMC family or the teams I work with at feedyards, just think of the mini Dr. Nels on your shoulder. When you see a conflict coming or are in the midst of it, my challenge to you is to picture a mini little Dr. Nels on your shoulder saying, “Don’t focus on the conflict, focus on the commonalities, and find solutions!”

Let that short little stumpy guy be the friendly reminder in that time of friction, conflict, or anxiety. Simplify the process of resolving conflict by focusing on those three truths, and talk through it like adults. You can even say to them, “This is going to be uncomfortable, but we are going to focus on the commonalities and solutions, and not focus on our disagreement.”

This is difficult to do, but it is a MUST for bigger, better, brighter success in your relationships - at home, at work, in the community. And that is ultimately our goal… your success! Happy Leadership Thursday!

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