Throughout life, we are taught that conflict is bad.
To avoid it at all costs.
We are taught this for many reasons, one of them being that conflict is uncomfortable.
Another reason is that sometimes conflict leads to the termination of relationships.
Which is painful.
In fact, a conflict situation is anything but pleasurable. All aspects of the conflict are uncomfortable.
The conflict itself.
Typically, the aftermath.
So, I can totally understand why we are all taught to avoid conflict.
Mainly, it’s uncomfortable and sometimes it ends up painful.
But what if we began to view conflict differently?
What if we began to view conflict as a blessing instead of a curse?
What if we saw a conflict as a means of synergy rather than a force that divides?
That is what I propose to you today.
That we began to see conflict as a good thing that promotes growth rather than a bad thing that causes division.
Allow me to offer you three quick points as to why I believe conflict can be beneficial.
1. Opportunity For Personal Growth
When I experience conflict, I try my best to see it as an area for growth rather than an area of discomfort that needs to be coddled.
This starting point is actually recommended by many Psychology professionals. Take Dr. Civico’s advice, for example:
“One of the attitudes mediators develop toward conflict is to perceive it as an opportunity and not merely as a problem. This attitude allows for exploration and creativity, and it can open the path toward transformation and change.”
Again, my point of view is not, “Wow, this sucks so much. It’s uncomfortable. I wish this would just go away.”
Rather, my point of view is, “This is uncomfortable. It must be uncomfortable for a reason. Perhaps I am feeling this way because this is an area that I am weak in. I’m experiencing conflict because I am struggling to grow in this area.”
Those are just my thoughts.
With that mindset in place, I determine what it is I’m experiencing conflict with and lean into that.
I believe that is the best thing that an individual can do when dealing with an internal conflict situation.
2. Opportunity For Creative Ideas
One of the best quotes that I’ve ever heard on conflict goes something like this…
“Conflict breeds creativity.”
I had to do a little digging to see where this quote came from and it seems that many people have said this or have said something like it. It seems it’s a popular idea!
For example, Steve Jobs promoted the idea of “consensus breeds mediocrity,” which is simply the other side of the above quote.
However, I think I have located the people that have said the above quote. It comes from two young entrepreneur BFF’s who started Genius.com.
The reason that conflict breeds creativity is that weak ideas are killed in the conflict. A debate tends to take place in a conflict and when it does the best ideas tend to win out and the weakest ideas tend to die.
Passionate and creative ideas make it through a conflict and weak ideas don’t.
It’s as simple as that.
3. Opportunity For Relational Growth
My final point centers around interpersonal conflict.
Relational conflict is probably one of the most uncomfortable forms of conflict, in my opinion.
Like I said at the beginning of this post, interpersonal conflict typically comes with a heavy dose of hurt and it can sometimes lead to the termination of relationships.
This is the type of conflict that I am most afraid of.
My guess is that this form of conflict is what you’re most afraid of too.
But again, a conflict between two or more people can be looked at as an opportunity instead of as a crisis.
Let me tell you a story.
I have a good friend named Miriam. She actually wrote a blog post for me last year.
Miriam and I were on a marketing team last semester and we got along great during the whole project.
Except for this one time…
It was really stupid.
We were practicing for our final presentation in a classroom.
We had someone come in to critique our PPT and presentation.
We then began to disagree about where one of our presentation critics was going to sit in the room.
Just a mild disagreement but we both could feel the tension.
Seriously, it was a dumb disagreement.
I’ll be honest though, I had some feelings of resentment. I thought, “Well, what the heck does she know?!”
(She knows a lot, actually)
And at that moment, I had a choice to make.
I could either dwell on this conflict and let it affect my relationship with my friend.
I could lay down my pride and preferences, choose to communicate with Miriam about the hurts that we were both feeling, and grow from it.
I chose the latter.
Simply put, when a conflict occurs between two people it means that there is a form of pain that has been inflicted on both parties. Hurt has taken place.
And those two people can choose to ignore the hurt, let it fester, and eventually turn into bitterness.
They can acknowledge the hurt, address it with each other, and grow together.
Think about that next time you have a conflict with someone.
No, my hope isn’t that you’d never experience conflict again. Rather, my hope is that you would experience a little more conflict than you are used to.
In the internal realm, the idea realm, and in the interpersonal realm.
So that you can begin to identify areas for growth, grow from your conflicts, and become a better person as a result.
Remember, conflict isn’t bad.
It’s an opportunity.