Here’s a simple calculation:
Managing yourself + managing other people = a full time job.
Don’t let people fool you. There’s plenty of full-time work out there. But there’s no pay. And the cost for failing at it is high.
We underestimate the power of disputes (as a part of the conflict process) to go viral, through the stories that we tell other people about the conflicts we are embroiled in.
Conflict engagement requires that we understand our own inner lives, and move from being selfish (inwardly focused) to being self-aware (knowing what’s going on with us internally, without becoming overwhelmed and focused on it). This is the core of the first part of the equation.
Conflict management requires that we understand (or at least acknowledge) the presence of emotions and the depth of their impact, on other people in with whom we are in dispute. This is the core of the second part of the equation.
Conflict as a full time job is requires us to recognize that conflict sometimes serves the other person and their motives, sometimes it serves us and our motives, and sometimes it serves nobody at all. Conflict will never go away, and sometimes the management of the process requires us to be tuned in (almost to have a sixth sense) about how power, story and emotions wind around issues of advocacy, policy and process.
There’s plenty of full time work out here. But too many people would rather defer the hard work of figuring out the parts of the above equation today, in the hope that tomorrow will just be a slightly better version of the past they just left.
This is neither engagement, nor management. It is mere avoidance.
And mere avoidance atrophies our emotional muscles as surely as a lack of exercise atrophies the physical muscles.
-Peace Be With You All-
Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: firstname.lastname@example.org