Friday, January 30, 2009

Conflicting Views

"Lives to the gallon", Billboard with graffiti, London, England, February 2003, Sony Cybershot, Exposure 1/80 sec @ f3.2, ISO 100, no flash © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Step 5. Creatively Resolve One Conflict
{continuing the series, by Susan Skog}

"Conflicts are a call to creative problem-solving." -- Louise Diamond

Whether you're hosting a family gathering or conferencing with your staff, conflict will pop up as surely as that annoying neighbor who wants you to vote like him. Intensity will always percolate in any community. Conflicts can't be avoided. But we can learn to navigate them more confidently and use the tension as an opportunity to express our views honestly and peacefully.

The next time conflict surfaces, keep breathing, stay calm, thoughtfully speak your truth, listen to others, and try to find some shared ground. Realize that your frustration may be about the situation, not the person. Set the intention to find a resolution. Try to find the humor. Agree to disagree, if necessary.

So, the photo here comes from a trip to London just before the start of the Iraq war. It's clear the graffiti artist's message. And what if you were a supporter (at that time) of going into Iraq? A sure recipe for conflict, right?

Well, I don't really wish to re-start that debate ;-) But let's use it to make some points.

First of all, you are not your "positions". You may take positions from time-to-time, but they do not define you. And you should make sure you don't define yourself as a series of opinions, positions, and then bundle them up into bins with labels. That objectification of the self is a big part of the problem.

If someone disagrees with your positions, or you with his, that does not have to put you in conflict with the individual.

So what of the disagreements and conflicting views that will inevitably arise many times throughout the day?

It is your choice how you wish to deal with them. My suggestion is to value above all else the individual's humanity, and as applicable, his friendship. With that firmly in mind, how angry will you get? Will you make the intention to not hurt the individual or damage the relationship? Is your dialog based upon mutual respect? Do you seek to understand his viewpoint? Do you wait for the opening, the receptiveness, to your opinion before pushing it on him? Are you as open-minded as you hope that he will be?

This is the manner in which interpersonal conflicts can be wisely addressed. With a calm, respectful attitude. It does not imply acquiescence or lack of principle. But it does demonstrate what you truly value -- a peaceful approach to conflict resolution. And by so doing, you take one more step toward peace itself.


Honeybee said...

Wonderfully put. :)

Steven Crisp said...

Thanks Honeybee.

You know, thanks to your comments, I go back and read these earlier posts. Sometimes I find myself surprised to read the words, and wonder where they come from.

Wherever that place is -- I'd like to go there again ;-)