What a great conflict to have!

Conflicts are an opportunity to learn. Dare we even say a good conflict can be a gift? Find out what you can actually take from a conflict and how to have a good one from the insightful essay by .Contriber.

This article was written by .Contriber, a co-organizer of sTARTUp Day 2024.

Conflicts are an opportunity to learn. Dare we even say a good conflict can be a gift? 

Let’s talk a bit about what you can actually take from a conflict and how to have a good one.

Why is it good to have conflicts? 

It might seem strange that conflicts can help us to gain more information. Instead of seeing conflict as a roadblock, it can act like a spark that brings new insights and knowledge to light.

People can argue about whether it's better to avoid conflict or embrace it. You probably have heard some people say, “I have such a good relationship – we never argue or fight!”. Yes, it might sound like a good relationship, but as important as what has been said is also what has not been said. This means that people who do not have any arguments or conflicts are just really good at not saying what they really want and, therefore, never actually getting what they want or need. Maybe you have felt it, too – if you constantly need to hide your frustration, it builds up and may come out in a different place or even in an unsuitable situation.
Let’s look at an example. Imagine you are in a meeting, and your boss gives you a task you hate. You don’t say anything and just agree to do it. You feel the frustration building up, and the whole day is just miserable. In the evening, you are in the shop, and a random person stands in your way. Feeling already annoyed by this day, you feel the rage coming up, and you say something extra nasty. Later, of course, feeling embarrassed for being rude for no reason other than your own bad mood.

What if you had just told your boss, “I really don’t want to do this task!”? Being honest in expressing your feelings would have maybe brought up a conversation that at least has the potential to have a different outcome. Perhaps the task would have been given to someone who enjoys it. Or maybe, because you expressed your view, you would have found a whole new way to approach the task together. Perhaps this task was not relevant anymore, but nobody had noticed it before. At least you could have an opportunity to express your feelings and feel more easy afterward. But there will never be a different outcome if you decide not to say anything.

So, how can conflicts lead to gaining wisdom? 

Only through conflict can new knowledge emerge. The clash of ideas and beliefs can either be viewed as an obstacle or an opportunity for intellectual evolution.
If two opposing views meet, is one of these 100% correct and the other one stupid? Or might there be a chance that both perspectives have an inch of truth? This recognition opens the door to a thoughtful examination of conflict, recognizing the opportunity for mutual understanding and learning.

Instead of winning an argument and proving your right, you could be looking for clarity. What is this 10% the other person is right about, and I don’t see?

The benefits of having a conflict and the risks of never having conflicts 

When two views of the world crash with each other, a conflict of sorts usually follows. But if I never make an effort to listen to what the other person is saying, I am also saying no to my own learning and growing, letting go of a perfect opportunity to make my view of the world one small step wider.
There will always be a solution I didn’t see, a better answer I didn’t come to, or information I did not have. If I want a better solution, a smarter answer, or just more information, I need to collaborate with the world to gain access. Talking with another person can help me get the missing piece of information that leads me to come up with a solution. But if I never try, I am destined to have second-rate solutions, answers, and information.

A good conflict should end with both parties seeing something new in the other. If the conflict is not about winning, it becomes about learning and improving the relationship as you now understand the other part better.

It is also important to point out that you can only affect your own behavior. If you want to see the change in how you have conflicts, you need to start implementing the change on yourself first. This information cannot be used to manipulate another person to change their behavior. You always need to start with yourself.

So, shifting your perspective on conflict from a negative outcome of failed communication to an opportunity to learn something new may build your relationships even stronger, and having this perspective in mind can transform uncomfortable situations into opportunities for growth and collaboration for yourself and those around you.
.Contriber will be hosting two seminars at sTARTUp Day 2024: " The Art of Listening " and ".Contriber Workshop for better relationships (co-founders and lovers welcome)".  
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