UMBC Wellness in the Workplace

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April 2010: Acknowledge that conflict is co-created.

This statement may be shocking because we spend most of our time with conflict focusing on getting to the bottom of ‘who done it.’ We mistakenly feel that if we find out who did “it,” we’ll have resolution and feel better but how often does focusing on blame create resolution and dissolve the conflict? In most instances, it doesn’t, and more than likely it creates more opposition and resentment. While we may be ‘practiced’ at finger pointing, we can let this practice go, and for the sake of creating healthy relationships take on a new practice. I’d like you to consider this new certitude – that because we exist only in partnership with each other, conflict can only be co-created. And, if we accept that conflict is co-created, that opens all kinds of possibilities for how the solution can be co-created.

In the next month, assume that conflict is co-created and begin observing the conflicts you have with others. For each instance, get clear about the conflict and the role (large or small) that you and your partner play in co-creating it. If you choose to speak with your partner about the conflict, acknowledge first your own contribution to it. Instead of then moving on to talk about your partner’s contribution, pause, and see how your partner responds. Sometimes, your honesty will cause them to self-reflect and think about how they too played a part. This new behavior may not shift your partner overnight in owning his/her part of the conflict, but your modeling new behavior may lead them to become more aware and slowly influence them to change. As you practice this month, what shifts do you observe in your relationship? How are the conversations different as a result?