Conflict is inevitable both at work and in personal life because different people often have different goals. There are many reasons for conflict situations to arise: competition for resources, differing management styles, conflicting perceptions, conflicting goals or roles, differing personal values or competing pressures. Conflict is not always bad; when we are able to resolve conflict successfully it often leads to increased understanding, greater group cohesion and better knowledge about ourselves.
Conflict happens when people’s concerns appear to be incompatible. How it’s handled can make the difference between a positive or negative outcome. When you find yourself in a conflict situation, first consider whether motivations are in search of truth or in pursuit of victory.
When what is at stake is truth, then, everyone wins. Because to be defeated by the truth is the one defeat that is also a victory. In such a case people discover, learn and grow from the conflict. The reverse is true when the motivation for the conflict is pursuit of victory. In this case winning is not really winning because in winning over your opponent you have diminished yourself; such a loss will never sustain itself and may eventually lead to further conflict.
Here are some useful tips to facilitate the peaceful end to conflict from scholar, author and rabbi, Lord Jonathan Henry Sacks:
- Respect different perspectives
- Listen actively to your opponent and try to understand the logic of his/her position.
- Never use force, physical or psychological. The only legitimate weapons are logic, argument, tradition and persuasion.
- Be open to the outcome. You may be right, but you must be prepared to be proved wrong.
- See disagreement not just as conflict but as collaborative activity in pursuit of honesty and truth.
- Accept it as a legitimate, even holy, part of life.
- Keep talking. For even though the participants may feel as if they are enemies to one another, there is opportunity for love at the end.