Dealing with Conflict
I’m a middle child, and I’ve discovered that middle children are naturally independent and equipped with mediating skills. That’s a good thing, because for ten years—or was it twenty?—my two sisters didn’t talk to each other, and while I did my best to be the mediator, I often felt more like a punching bag.
Truth is, after the first four years or so, neither of my sisters could remember why they weren’t speaking. Once, when I was trying to use my natural and trained mediating skills, I asked them what started the dispute. Both of them gave me vague answers like, “If you don’t remember the reason, maybe I shouldn’t be talking to you either!” or “Have you not been listening all these years? How could you possibly ask me such a stupid question!”
Then, out of the blue, inexplicably, my sisters grew up. No more Christmases spent tiptoeing around the tree, no more birthdays celebrated separately. Things got realigned between them and now they team up against me on family issues!
We have all experienced disagreements, and sometimes we are quick to blame. In my line of work, as a coach and branding specialist, I deal with lots of disagreements in people’s personal and business lives. After decades of training, the bottom line is, you have to keep a sense of humour, because here’s the fact: What we don’t like in others is often what we don’t like in ourselves.
So, when clients tell me they dislike a colleague because that person does this or that, I simply ask, “How do you do that same thing yourself?” Then, invariably, magic happens. Or, if magic doesn’t happen, it means my client is not ready to move forward by embracing that part of themselves that they see in the other person.
Ask yourself: Who am I? What do I like or dislike in other people, and how do I handle the same things in myself? Enjoy life and embrace all that you are in conflict with—there is lots to learn about yourself from conflict. Now, I only wish I had had these words of wisdom to share with my sisters twenty years ago when I was in the middle of their dealing with conflict, though wisdom is acquired with age.