Saturday, April 30, 2016

Conflict: You Can Run but, You Cannot Hide

by Paula Castaneda

Kevin S. Brame is the Executive Director of IPSLEI, which stands for International Public Safety, Leadership and Ethics Institute. Mr. Brame led an educational forum at the 2016 Phi Theta Kappa International Convention; he began by saying that everyone sees conflict in a different way and he gave us an excellent example of this. He showed us the following picture and he asked us if the cup was half empty or half full.

Some people said half full and other people said half empty. Who was wrong? Nobody. This is a perfect example of the different ways we can see something. We bring conflict into our lives because of our perspective and failing to recognize another perspective.

Conflict is about communication and communication is the only key to success. Difficult communication, or anything that makes you uncomfortable, is necessary to resolve any conflict. Mr. Brame claims that conflict has 3 different conversations: 1) What happened, 2) Feelings, and 3) Identity.

In the "What happened" step, we all have different perspectives of the situation and we don’t want to take the responsibility. As a consequence, we start playing the blame game where we blame everyone else except ourselves. We also tend to invent things and it’s difficult to determine if they are truth or assumptions. All of this makes the task of concluding what really happened very difficult.

The "Feelings" conversation is the very core of difficult conversation. Our feelings change the perspective of what happened and suddenly, we have an issue of values. Feelings turn to us back to our values. So, the idea of what is important to us and our priorities become primary.

In a conflict, our "Identity" is being attacked. This is subtle, which makes it challenging to deal with. The key is to identify the identity of the other person because that is what help us approach that person and resolve the conflict.

This forum gave me wonderful tips on resolving conflicts and I would like to share some of these with you.
  • Change your perspective.
  • Explore as much as you can to realize what happened.
  • Share your feelings.
  • Understand the other person feelings and perspectives because if you are close minded, you won’t be able to resolve any conflict.
  • Address the issue because if we don't, it will come back again and again.

It is very important to try to resolve every conflict that we have in our lives. Conflict is like cancer, if we don’t cut it from the root it will continue growing and causing problems. We can run from the conflict and the difficult conversation but we cannot hide from it because at the end of the day, it will always come out to light again.

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