Human beings have been dealing with conflict for as long as they have inhabited the Earth. You’d think after all this time we’d be able to get it right by now – but we continue to fall short. So, I thought it would be a good idea to address how we perceive conflict, deal with conflict, and work to understand our challenges with conflict.
Human beings have been dealing with conflict for as long as they have inhabited the Earth – give or take, about 2 million years! You’d think after all this time, we’d be able to get it right by now – but we continue to fall short. In that span of time, human beings encountered MASSIVE challenges and conflicts, not just from their own species of other humans, but from other species, from nature, plagues, and insurgence, and even conflict with the self.
From these experiences, human beings have failed to find the “secret sauce” to effectively deal with not just the challenge at hand but the challenge of tomorrow. And while human beings try to evolve from one millennium to the next, the resounding truth is this: Human beings weren’t made for conflict; they were made for survival.
So, when you think about it from that perspective, being a survivalist means you MUST do one thing better than the enemy – be adaptable. We weren’t the fastest species inhabiting the planet at one point in our historical evolution, and we’re certainly not the strongest species, but we’re the smartest. Because of our ability to think critically and problem solve, we can artfully adapt to a new environment, particularly when our survival depends on it.
As this article is being assembled for dissemination, the world is in the midst of a global pandemic, the likes of which have not been seen since the Swine Flu of the early 1900s. Our conflict as a species is to mitigate our chances for contraction by sheltering in place, keeping our social distance from other human beings when we are in public spaces, and wearing personal protective masks and gloves that prevent the spread of disease from one human being to another. This presents several forms of conflict for us.
To begin, human beings are social creatures by nature. We generally enjoy and rely upon other humans in our day-to-day activities, so this new way of living life has been disrupted, and our ability to do as we please has been paused. However, if we can abide by these new guidelines for a period of time, we increase the likelihood that more of us will survive than not. We all want to continue to thrive in our personal and/or professional lives – but thriving makes it impossible if we do not adapt to survive.
The challenge we all face, as a species, is determining how we choose to handle our conflicts. If a co-worker upsets you with their words or actions, and you lash out at them in a verbal tirade, you are not trying to resolve the circumstance. You are trying to survive. And therein lies the dilemma – how can we navigate our conflicts and get to the other side of that conflict with our integrity intact, without going completely into survival mode. I mean, after all, our brains have been practicing survival for 2 million years – that’s a hard habit to break.
So, I thought it would be a good idea to address how we perceive conflict, deal with conflict, and work to understand our challenges with conflict – so that 2 million years in the future, we’ll be more evolved.
1. Be Resilient to Resolve
When our emotions take over as the driving force in an attempt to resolve conflict, we rarely get to the other side with our integrity intact. If you can suppress the urge to allow that to happen, you’ll cut off the circuitry in your brain that compels you to react, and you can use an executive part of your brain called the pre-frontal cortex. That part of our brain is reserved for critically thinking and problem-solving. Stay in the mindset of responding, not reacting to earn your resolve.
2. Listening to Be Heard, Not to Be Right
If you are the type of person who has to win every argument, you are at a massive disadvantage to connecting with others. This disposition is driven by the ego and sends powerful messages about what you value. If you can enter a conversation with the intent to be heard, you can reinforce the first step of being resilient.
3. Mindsets Matter
Telling yourself stories of negativity sets the stage for a negative outcome. Conversely, if you can tell yourself a story of options, opportunity, and hope, you stand as good a chance as anyone to get to the other side of your conflict. Sometimes, the images that we set in our minds are followed by actions we display. If you prime the pump with positivity and stick to the facts without allowing your emotions to drive the bus, you’ll be more resourceful in arriving at a resolution.
To learn more about how you can increase your skill sets in Leading through Conflict, go to our E-Learning platform and register today for the course on Leading through Conflict. We’re here to support you on your journey, and this course will teach you how to navigate those moments before the wheels come off the bus. Best of luck, and as always…
Live with Purpose & Passion.