Turning Conflict Into Opportunities

I have been thinking about conflict a lot – perhaps because I work with people in conflict, perhaps because I am the parent of one teenage boy and one soon-to-be teenage boy!  I think conflict has a bad rap.  We shy away from conflict because we tend to think it is “bad”.  I wonder how we’d approach conflict if we looked at it instead as an opportunity.  What if there was something we could learn when we experience conflict?  Would we look at conflict differently?

I believe that we experience conflict when we do not have the resources or skills we need. From that perspective, I  see conflict as an opportunity to increase and enhance my skills and resources.

To that end, I want to explore what opportunities arise when we experience conflict and how we can transform our fear of conflict into an opportunity and exploration.

I see conflict as opportunities for various things; I will list them here.

1. Conflict is an opportunity to learn more about ourselves. Why is this so upsetting to me? What I am really unhappy about? What am I afraid of? What is it that I really want in this situation?

2. Conflict is an opportunity to learn more about the other person. Why is this so upsetting to him/her? What is she/he so unhappy about? What is she/he afraid of? What is it that she/he really wants in this situation?

3. Conflict is an opportunity to increase one’s resources, both internal and external. Do I have the skills and resources to solve this problem myself? If so, what are those skills? If not, who can support me in this dilemma? What additional skills do I need? Where can I learn those skills?

4. Conflict is an opportunity to enhance my ability to creatively brainstorm and solve problems. We usually see conflict in a very one-dimensional way: I am right, You are wrong. When we see the world in this way, we have very limited vision and ability to think creatively. Conflict provides us the opportunity to see the situation from the other person’s perspective and thus to see more possible solutions to the problem.

5. Conflict is an opportunity to build trust in myself and others. When we work through a conflict in a respectful way, we learn how to listen to ourselves and each other better and we solve problems together. This builds trust in ourselves and in each other.

While I do not want to encourage anyone to go out a create a conflict, I do want to encourage you to see conflict as an opportunity to learn and grow and perhaps transform something that seemed insurmountable and miserable into something that generates new possibilities for all.

Good luck and let me know how it goes!!

Thanks ~ cat

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