As human beings, one of the most difficult things for us to do is deal with conflict. Why is this? This is because we need and yearn for connection. Connection is why we are here – it is what makes life worth living. However, conflict is typically seen as the antithesis to connection, and as such is fraught with resistance and discomfort. I propose that it is possible to approach conflict from a different perspective that instead promotes connection.
As much as we are built for and require connection to find meaning in our lives, it is the act of getting through and past conflict that actually allows us to grow and flourish. It is in stepping out of our comfort zones and in having our beliefs and assumptions stretched or even broken down where we do our greatest growing.
So, what would it be like if at the first sign of conflict, whether internal or external, we could celebrate it as an opportunity for growth? What if instead of thinking, “This is bad”, or “This person is wrong,” we could think, “What is the possibility here?” or “How is this other person right?” The fact is that there is at least 10% that is correct about each position being held in a conflict. The key is getting to the bottom of WHY a certain position is held. And, it is in this process that discovery takes place and a greater connection is created.
Try it the next time you are in conflict with someone. Take a step back and in a spirit of curiosity ask the other person why he/she is holding that opinion or position. As he/she answers, continue the process of asking why until you get to the fundamental truth for that person. Then, do the same for yourself. The most likely result is that at some point of asking why, you will reach a point where you can find some common ground that will open the path to move forward. And, in the process you will have fully heard the other person, while also voicing your values, thus creating connection!