2 Why don’t we deal with conflict well?
Many organisations experience conflict as either unexpected and out of proportion ‘blow-ups’ or issues that are simply ignored and swept under the carpet with the vague hope that it will go away. The two scenarios are actually related. An issue is ignored when it first emerges; it festers and the pressure builds, as people get frustrated that their issue was never addressed. A trigger point occurs that releases the pressure valve and – BANG – a blow-up occurs.
So why don’t people deal with issues as they present – why do they avoid it or go on the attack when it blows-up?
The two reasons people either avoid conflict entirely or respond in ways that are not constructive relate to:
- How they instinctively think and behave when conflict emerges – they are operating unconsciously – reactively.
- A lack of alternative constructive strategies for coping in conflict situations and addressing the issue – based on their past experiences – even their childhood – they do not understand that it is possible to deal with conflict differently.