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Creative Conflict Resolution: Being Right is Overrated

Sep 11, 2013 12:28:06 PM

“I find him to be closed minded.  It’s his way or no way!”

“She is really hard to read, like she has on a protective shield.”

“It is as if he can’t develop a plan or be the least bit strategic.”

“She moves too slow…over thinking everything!”

These types of comments are common in most organizations, and while we all know that productive business relationships are critical to our success, it isn’t always easy to avoid the destructive side of conflict.  Conflict happens as a result of differences in personality, beliefs, and styles.   One thing we can count on is that there will be conflict in our business relationships, but how we choose to respond to it is what determines whether we are exasperated or innovative.

I had one of those “ah-ha” moments recently about creative conflict resolution.  I was working with someone who saw a situation very differently from the way I saw it. I caught myself thinking, how unenlightened this individual is. They must not have had the benefit of the education I had on this important topic…or they would know how wrong they were.  Suddenly I realized I was making this person wrong, and even villainizing to some degree the strong opinion they held.  And though I didn’t verbalize it out loud to them at the time, the way I interacted and engaged certainly was impacted by my thoughts and feelings.

The big eye-opener was the realization that the trait that was difficult for me to deal with in this other person, was how opinionated they were, and unwilling to see that my opinion was valid.

Then it hit me hard…I was demonstrating the same trait!  What was difficult for me to be with was similar to the way I was responding to them.

That day I began to get curious about this other point-of-view, and I did my best to let go of my arrogance so that I could wonder about this other opinion and what truth existed there that I was overlooking.

I do my best to catch myself when I start to objectify another person, seeing them as an obstacle to my wants and needs.  Some days I do better than others, and I avoid the trap of thinking that my way is better…and it is for me but it isn’t for we.

I am reminded of a quote, Do you want to be right, or do you want your relationship to work? 

Being right is overrated! 

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Deb Siverson

Deb Siverson is the owner and founder of Xponents. She completed her Masters in Organizational Leadership from University of Colorado-Boulder. Deb is the author of the book, "The Cycle of Transformation: igniting organizational change through the leader coach."

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