Looking Conflict in the Eye

OR 11.19.19 Growth - Healthy Debate

I don’t like conflict may not be the words many people say aloud; however, they’re often the words that can drive a variety of behaviors: passive-aggressive actions; gossiping or back-channeling; “polite Southern” quips; hard-nosed attacks; or simply complete avoidance.

Of course, none of these behaviors are “healthy”; however, there is a clear difference between the first four and the last example. In fact, there’s a lot of irony in completely avoiding conflict – because by not directly engaging with the person(s), we stay more engaged in the conflict.

I learned that lesson a few years ago. To make a long story short, I had a major disagreement with a friend of mine who lived in a different state. I ultimately avoided conversation for more than a year. Initially, it was out of irritation that we were even in conflict. Avoidance turned the irritation into awkwardness. Then, the awkwardness turned into fear that the relationship had been broken. Oh, then came the guilt. And so, the downward spiral continued.

We’re all human, even those who help others to step into their leadership in business and life. When I embraced the element of healthy debate, an important aspect of Expand Your Influence, I contacted the person and our connection began to grow, and it continues to this day. No more guilt, no more awkwardness, no more irritation.  What had I been waiting for?

Healthy debate isn’t about steps 1 through N. It isn’t about giving equal time for both “sides” to state their case so that the other side can defend theirs. It isn’t about having to decide who is right and who is wrong. It isn’t about solving it right now.

Rather, it’s the result of being comfortable and confident with who you are, learning about new ideas and being open to different points of view. It’s about the ability to put yourself in the seat of the others, being genuinely curious, and looking for alignment (which is not the same thing as agreement). It’s about being authentic to who you are and—at the same time—empathetic to others. Bottom line: Healthy debate is about a keen desire to grow. It’s worth it; take it from someone who knows.

This Week: Where in your life do you have an unresolved conflict? If you have one, what will it take to be vulnerable enough to engage with the other(s) now?  Where can you be the curious, open-minded person who wants to remove the conflict for the sake of strengthening your relationship?

In Next Week’s Post: What happens when you’re ready to declare a vision you have for a lasting legacy.

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