Dealing with Difference and Conflict
The following points are useful to keep in mind for dealing with all types of conflict, from mild differences of opinion up to serious tensions.
* Try to see all conflict as an opportunity for growth.
Conflict is natural in this world. Different opinions, tensions and even more serious conflict can lead to positive change.
* Focus on your same interests vs. different positions.
Two parties can have the same interests but their position may be quite different. For example, a husband and wife may want to discipline an energetic child. This is their common interest. However, their “position” may be different—one may want to discipline the child by spanking, the other by non-physical means.
* Don’t take all conflicts personally; separate people from problems.
When you encounter challenges or difficulties, first seek to understand the source. For example, at the grocery store, you may get upset with an overworked cashier because you’ve been waiting too long. Perhaps, it is the manager who is responsible, since he should open more lines.
* Separate people from their behaviour.
Labelling people disempowers them and fails to acknowledge that they have the ability and often the desire to change. For example, rather than saying “You are a fool for losing those keys,” say “When you lose the keys, I feel really upset because I hate being late.”
* Remember that perception is relative.
The way you perceive events may be quite different from the way others do. For example, several people witness the same crime, but each gives a significantly different version of the incident.
* Cultural differences must be taken into account.
People growing up in other cultures and other parts of the world may be taught different social rules and different values. For example, in the United States, we’re generally taught to look people directly in the eye whereas in many oriental cultures, it is a sign of disrespect to look an elder in the eye.
This is an excerpt from the GVT course, Strengthening the Bonds that Free Us