Have you ever listened to fighting cats, yelling at each other, making threatening strange noises when they defend their district against a foreign cat being an intruder? I hear them sometimes at night in my neighborhood and it really sounds very scary!
That is how they solve conflicts, they fight, rarely they try to avoid a conflict. It’s in their nature, their natural way of life. We’re humans, we should know better. Despite of all of our todays fortune, solving conflicts is a challenge we’re really poor practitioners at. Either we avoid conflicts at all or we start to fight, even if we don’t want to. When a conflict emerges, emotions are involved and this is an important point. Being overwhelmed by emotions makes it a hard challenge to deal with conflicts in a healthy way.
And that is exactly the crucial point, how can we deal with conflicts in a healthy way?
It doesn’t matter if I talk about personal relationships, teams or even societies, learning how to deal with conflicts enables us to discover a new way of communication, collaboration and personal development. Although conflicts can be a starting point to flourish, to grow, to overcome being stuck – as long as it is healthy and well handled.
We need to learn how to deal with conflicts, we need to face them to overcome the emotions which arise in us when a conflict emerges. This can take us to the next step of human evolution. We need to learn how to deal with conflicts in a healthy way!
Have you ever get a present from your grandparents in your childhood which not just disappointed you, even worth, you’ve hated it?
I remember a christmas eve in the early 1980′s. I was 9 years old and I was so excited to finally unwrap my presents. I was expecting this awesome cool Buggy from LEGO Technik and couldn’t wait to start building it. I was sure I’ll get it as my grandparents asked me a few weeks earlier what I was hoping for Santa could bring me…
Already when I received the present I noticed ‘what’s that, it’s so soft…’ It was a pullover, 2 pair of socks and a bar of chocolate. My mother directly noticed my disappointment and I was able to read in her face ‘don’t say that you’re disappointed, don’t make grandma sad…’, like it happened already a few times.
This was somehow the starting point of my vocational brainwashing training on swallowing anger and avoiding conflicts.
When you learn to avoid conflicts you’ll find out soon that in relationships, teams, organisations or societies conflicts are emerging constantly. As we’re all different, with different opinions, perspectives and values, it is natural that sooner or later friction emerges when people talk, work or life together. Human friction is a fertilizer for human development and growth.
What happens when you don’t train a muscle, a skill or quality? It becomes rudimentary! So it is with our ability to deal with conflicts when in an environment where we give everything to avoid them.
As it usually happens, sometimes we need to release that the tension of a conflict can’t be avoided anymore, sometimes we can not swallow that anger anymore and so it ends up in situations where we tend to generalizing and judging people what leads to psychological punishment and violation.
Imagine, you are always in time, doesn’t matter if to a meeting, a date or an appointment, you always arrive on schedule. Your new colleague comes late to your weekly regular meeting, he apologizes and you think ok, no problem. The next week he is late again and the week after as well. Your brain will make a connection as it recognizes patterns – in this case your brain will record, ‘the new colleague is always late’ and puts that label on that person. In addition, the fact of being late collides horribly with your own value of being always in time! Having these labels in your mind for a new colleague will make it even harder for you to address this situation. And even if this colleague will be in time now for weeks and months, as soon as he will be late again the recorded pattern in your brain will call for attention.
So why do we wait so long before we address a conflict? We just don’t know how to handle conflicts! We have no clue how to do it without being influenced from recorded patterns. And when we face a conflict, we’re influenced by such recordings and so we tend to generalize and judge other people. We become unfair like an awkward rookie who just started to learn how to speak.
We fear the unknown, we fear things we can’t handle, we fear things when we’ve made bad experience with them. So, do you have any clue why we have fear of conflict, one of our most dysfunctional problem in our society?
Brainwashed in our youth we tend to avoid conflicts and swallow the anger that comes with it. When the straw breaks the camel’s back, we overact and violate with words. And this just because we don’t know how to handle conflicts.
I suffered from conflicts a lot of times in my life and I know I’m not alone with that challenge. After attending a training on conflict handling earlier this year, I started to think about a format which enables me to practice what I’ve learned and enables learning for others without the need of attending an expensive 3 day training. And after talking with some other coaches I’ve created the conflict dojo. A framework for teams and groups of people to learn and practice facing conflicts. By facing own real-life conflicts in a safe environment, with people who react with different strategies, we’re able to experience different ways of handling conflicts. We analyze what has happened and how to improve facing such a problem. I know that a lot of people might think now, that sounds like learning non violent communication. No, that’s not. Non violent communication is one of the strategies which are available in our conflict dojo, but not the only one. Even if you will discover that #NVC is one of the best ways, if not even the best, to address a conflict, you will also experience other strategies and behaviors so that you’re able to become aware of your own best way how to handle a conflict.
I’d like to challenge you to become a pussy, to find your natural way of how to deal with conflicts and that facing conflicts does not mean, like for the cats, to start fighting! I’d like to invite you to train your conflict handling muscle and try out a Conflict Dojo. Learn, grow and let conflicts be your own flourishing fertilizer!
I have facilitated the first Conflict Dojo the last week in germany and it worked out very well. If you’re interested to try it out and help improving the format please send me a mail: firstname.lastname@example.org - I will publish the full instructions for a Conflict Dojo within the next weeks. As it is completely new I’d like some people and teams to try it out first and help improving before I publish it.