Be Curious With Conflict

The background to this post can be found here : Change The Way You See Everything

The majority of people I know will do anything to avoid conflict.  Conflict really comes with a such a bad wrap, it’s got negativity and a distinct lack of compromise stitched into the fabric of its definition.  For the majority of the population, the word conflict equals bad.

So if Change The Way You See Everything is really going to stay true to its manifesto, it surely can see a way to making conflict equal good.  This part of the book is called Getting A Charge Out Of Conflict.

Opposition for opposition’s sake is what gives conflict its bad reputation.  I happen to not be one to shy away from conflict under most circumstances.  I am usually the one raising an issue to open the dialogue for discussion, or pointing out that something is NQR.  But this is where it gets tricky, because no matter how open-minded I try to remain when facing conflict, the outcome of the conflict is only as good as the Asset Based Thinking of the other person.

Here’s why. 

Conflict magnifies and illuminates who you are.  It seizes and startles you into seeing what makes you uncomfortable.  It pushes your boundaries – intellectual, emotional and physical.  Conflict, if treated properly, offers the chance to change your mind altogether.

When faced with conflict, explore the possibility that opposing forces can both be true simultaneously.  Taking this perspective immediately dissolves animosity and piques curiosity.  You find yourself wondering “What’s their truth?  Where is the value on their side?”  When you finally give up the belief that yours is the only truth, it changes the game forever.  Now you’re in a position to see what new truth you can create together.

My only issue with this is that it takes two people to take this same curious approach to create a new truth.  If only one person is curious enough to be prepared to listen and empathise and potentially alter their own truth, they will continually be compromised and the other person won’t necessarily learn or grow. 

This is one of the biggest issues in my relationship.  My partner and I are very different, we’ve had vastly different upbringings, are emotionally divergent, intellectually work in unique ways, have dissimilar levels of self-awareness and have disproportionate capacity to empathise.

Despite my partner’s effusion that he is a very positive person, that mainly manifests itself in him being positive that he’s right.  🙂  It’s a very DBT way of behaving and that coupled with his inherent need to avoid conflict means that when I raise an issue, he approaches it very defensively.

He’s gotten much much much better with controlling his defensiveness recently, but we’re still not quite using conflict to its best potential.  The concept of listening and hearing (there is a difference between listening and hearing!) the other person’s truth, putting that in context with your own and then effectively adding 1 + 1 to get 3, is a really compelling and perception changing way of looking at conflict.


1 Comment

  1. Hi Justine!
    I work at the Cramer Institute, for/with Kathy Cramer, the author of this book! We get google alerts so we got notice that you’d posted information about Asset-Based Thinking. How awesome! You’ve done such a great job of unraveling the concepts and making them applicable and accessible. By the way, Kathy and Hank published a follow up book this spring called “Change the Way You See Yourself” — if you’d like a copy, we’d be happy to arrange to have one sent to you. I assume does international shipping?!? Please feel free to email me at the address associated with this comment.

    Again, thank you so much for writing about the work we’re doing! And for writing so well! I love your “about me”– it made me laugh and Kathy remarked that you sound a bit like me. 🙂 I will take that as a compliment for us both! (And I’m an INFJ- very similar!)


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