Preparing for Conflict

Just like public speaking or any other skill, I am realizing that conflict resolution is a skill worth mastering. As an Army officer, you are expected to lead, but in order to lead, you have to know how to manage conflict to accomplish the mission. The “mission” does not always mean going into battle or winning a war. Depending on your specialty, your unit, or work environment, the mission may be proving good health care, gathering intelligence information, maintaining and supplying units, etc. Whatever the mission is, conflict in the workspace can feel like you are going into a battlefield. Your heart starts to race, your temperature may increase, you become nervous. It is a similar physiological reaction to when a soldier is facing a threat. The big difference is that work conflict, for the most part, does not present a danger to us. However, our physiological reaction makes us feel like we are, thereby guiding our thoughts and behaviors, potentially leading to increased conflict. This is why it is so important to consult, use humor, and not personalize the situation to be in the best possible stance to manage workspace conflict.

The consultation stage is very important because it gives us an objective perspective into the situation. In this initial stage, you want to consult with someone who is going to tell you the truth. You need to go to that one friend that no matter what will be brutally honest with you. They will let you know if your reaction is appropriate or not. They will also let you vent. You can scream and let it all out with them without the reciprocal reaction. What I have noticed that consultation does, is it lets us regulate our emotions, while at the same time gain perspective into the matter.

The more perspective we gain, the more objective we can be and find the humor in the situation. I am sometimes surprised by the issues that arise in the workplace. At times, I look around the room and think I may be on the show Punk’d because the conflict is so petty or miniscule that I have to REBT myself and say, “Is this worth getting upset about?”  The answer often times is, “No”.  And if we really think about it, most conflict is never worth the amount of energy or time it takes away from us.  If we are able to see the humor in the situation and be light hearted about the problem, then we can hopefully see another perspective while at the same time burn some calories laughing from the irony of the situation.

Lastly, the more humor we can add to the equation then the better off we will be with not personalizing the conflict.  If we can take an objective stance, then we are more likely to come out of conflict with a learning lesson. Challenging our distorted thoughts that make us think we are being targeted, not good enough, or incapable, is the constant technique we need to implement when a problem arises. By taking ourselves out of the equation and looking at the problem as a puzzle to solve, we can hopefully take out some emotions. The less the thought of feeling attacked is in our heads, the more likely we can be objective, calm, and learn something new about ourselves and the people we work with, live with, or interact with.

This is an anecdotal approach to preparing for conflict. In writing this blog it has increased my awareness of how important it is to have a plan of action to deal with conflict. Additionally, it encourages me to not run away from conflict but embrace it. The more we confront and deal with conflict, the better we will be at managing it, providing supervision, and mentoring others. Like Thomas Edison once said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Conflict I believe is one of the best ways to truly learn about yourself – so do not avoid. Embrace the struggles it comes with and hopefully in reading this we can be reminded that conflict is not an inherently bad thing, but an opportunity for growth. 

Share this post: