Three Mindful Things You Can Do to Deal Better with Conflict
“The world is divided into those who think they are right''
1. Suspend the belief that you are right or that you must be right.
The first part of that statement isn’t so hard to do when you remember that there is a 100% chance that you are not 100% right. Even if you think you are 90% right, the 10% you are wrong about could be the part of the story on which the whole outcome hinges.
The bigger challenge is when you think you must be right. When you’re in this state, it’s really hard to remember the first part. A primal fear takes over that equates winning with survival. Your imagination inflates the consequences to life-or-death levels when in reality that is almost never the case.
This scenario usually does not end well unless or until you remember part one and make space for the idea that you are, at least to some degree, wrong.
If you can hold this perspective, it opens the door for dialogue and engagement. This step doesn’t mean you are giving in, you are simply aligning yourself with reality and recognizing that you don’t know what you don’t know.
2. Expand your perspective by remembering what you really want.
Think about it this way. Most of us don’t go into conflict seeking a broken relationship, frustration, regret, bitterness, embarrassment, and exhaustion. At least not if you care about the outcome.
And that’s the point. Care about the outcome more than winning. Or maybe that’s the question, is there an outcome that is more important than your ego or pride? If you can connect to that outcome it frees your mind to be open and creative instead of closed and defensive. Now, is it possible you can find common ground at the level of the desired outcome even if you disagree on the topic?
Conflict often betrays intentions. You may both want the same thing and would both benefit by its achievement but the outcome is missing from the context of the conflict. Keep it at the forefront of your mind.
3. Remember that conflict is normal.
This one is hard for me. Maybe it’s hard for you too. I grew up in an environment that instilled a fear response to conflict. But even if you don’t have any preconditioned, negative reactions to conflict, most people find conflict difficult or unsettling.
Conflict is normal. It’s part of life. It’s part of nature. Your days are often full of micro-conflicts and you navigate most of them with such ease that you don’t really notice. So when the bigger conflicts come along, try to remember that you already know what to do and release the idea that this is a sign that something is wrong or that you are in danger.
If you can reduce the conflict inside by recognizing the conflict outside as a natural part of working with other people who see the world differently, you’ll be able to channel more energy toward a healthy outcome.
Even when the stakes are high, you are going to be better equipped to work through the situation if you can orient your thoughts around these points. The idea is to create space for your curiosity, intention, and empathy to engage before your ego and emotions take over.