Conflict: Resilience drain or ally?

I’ll confess it up front: I am naturally conflict adverse. I have never really enjoyed conflict, mostly for what it has brought out of me in the past – a less than flattering version of me.


Having said this, I have come to recognize a benefit in conflict as well, and I have been learning to mature in my EQ to ride waves of conflict on to better futures. Is this truly  possible, or just placebo?

Consider this: Conflict helps us to see what lies beneath the surface.

Some of the most intense conflicts arise when values collide – and being a values-based leadership proponent, this was somewhat disconcerting for me.

Conflict has been especially problematic for me when my EQ is not as strong as I would like it to be on a given day, and my physiology starts to work against me – you know how that is…when the blood pressure starts to rise, and the vein in your forehead starts to pound, while your face flushes and your mind can’t seem to find the brain-path to diplomacy!

There are three ways that conflict can help me see what lies beneath the surface:

  1. Within me:  Hysterical = historical. What is going on in me that my button got pushed? What thoughts are making me feel as though my security is being threatened?
  2. Within others:  Similarly to what is going on inside myself, what is going on inside of others that they are reacting? What values do they hold that I may be trampling on? What is their current reality (what is going on in their life that I may need to consider) that is exacerbating the current conflict (Note: their is a difference between excusing behavior and identifying a reason for it).
  3. Within the circumstance:  What systems, protocols, practices, etc may be serving to create/elevate the conflict? This area is often fertile soil for innovation and breakthroughs.

There are essentially 5 levels to conflict.

Screenshot 2016-01-19 09.03.01Source: Canadian Management Centre

Obviously, the conflicts attended to/resolved at the first two levels provide the greatest opportunity to avoid escalation to chronic conflict and permanently damaged relationships. It is wise therefore to expend energy through consistent attention and engagement in understanding of issues that create discomfort or episodes.

There are also five core strategies to dealing with conflict:

  1. Collaboration
  2. Compromise
  3. Competition
  4. Avoidance
  5. Accommodation


How might any of these be applicable for you in your situation? What has worked best for you? What has been limiting for you in resolving conflict, or discovering what lies beneath the surface?