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April 1, 2015

I Beg to Differ

Hal photo outside Feb2012Honest differences are often a healthy sign of progress” (Mahatma Gandhi)

I’m convinced that despite what people say, pretty much everyone loves conflict. If not on the sports field, then we enjoy it on TV. Or in the political arena. See, we all love conflict, as long as it’s happening to other people. When it comes to engaging in conflict ourselves, most of us try to avoid it like the plague. This is because, to most, conflict means drama, hurt feelings, and damaged relationships.
But that only describes conflict done poorly. Most of us try to avoid conflict because we were never shown or taught how to do it well. Our parents were told to never argue in front of us, and thus we never got to see adults speaking openly and calmly in honest disagreement. We never got to see them work together toward a solution that benefits both parties. And, for a lot of us, we never will, ever since these non-fighting parents of ours announced they were getting a divorce.
Here’s the truth: Conflict is good. Conflict works. It is the only way different people can ever A) get to really know one another, B) start to really trust one another, and C) learn from each other. It may be uncomfortable. It may test you and your ability to stay “screamfree,” but, just as resistance builds muscle, conflict builds relationships.
So go ahead and fight. Speak your mind in disagreement. Respond to that perceived slight with a follow-up question. Seek clarity from the other person. Calm down, grow up, and get closer by representing exactly what you believe and how you feel. And then champion your “opponent” to do the same. Welcome their feedback, stay cool as you reflect upon it, and then give your own.

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