When I speak on the subject of conflict resolution, I ask a volunteer to throw me a punch – in 29 years only two people have whole-heartedly felt comfortable doing so. Why is that?
The ‘punch’ is a physical metaphor of a verbal engagement; I believe most people don’t like to intentionally engage unless they are enraged, outraged or already in agreement. Or, they hold the position of authority.
Conflict resolution often focuses on what to do when you feel attacked, stuck or manipulated.
I’d like to explore the other side of conflict…how to engage in honorable conflict.
Conflict usually is the result of differences. Differences are extremely valuable. Mastering honorable conflict comes from ‘how’ you engage when there is difference. Often, differences get ugly while people battle to be ‘right’. Avoiding arguments is reasonable; stuffing ideas and disengaging is not.
Returning to my martial art metaphor, there is correlation on how to create honorable conflict. Each of following applies to verbal or emotional engagements as well.
- Look for an appropriate opening rather than going full force into a brick wall
- Get centered and ask open ended questions, avoid asking, “Why?”
- Stay open, flexible and connected as this is the only way you can gauge another’s response; if you are rigid you get hurt
- Keep moving in, don’t let the first reaction stop you from engaging more
With energy and engagement!