Conflict utilization is a powerful concept that encourages embracing differences and turning them into a catalyst for creative change. Many organizations aim to minimize conflict by seeking resolution or management, but this approach often limits growth and innovation. Instead, understanding conflict as a natural clash of energy sources is key. Utilizing conflict involves surfacing and strengthening differing positions, allowing them to contribute to a richer, wiser outcome. By learning from conflicts, we can become smarter, closer, and more adept at working with differences. Premature agreement can hinder innovation, making conflict utilization a valuable skill in achieving breakthrough thinking. Embracing principles from Aikido, conflict can be an opportunity for growth and skill enhancement. Explore resources to develop conflict utilization abilities.
Conflict utilization. How to turn differences into creative change. Most of the groups that we consult with, at least when we go in, are trying to minimize conflict. They’re trying to minimize the differences that show up in the group. And in this few minutes, I want to explain to you how absolutely dysfunctional and how wrong that is. Here we go. Most people are into something that they like to call either conflict resolution. We need to resolve the conflict or conflict management. We need to manage the conflict. To tell you the truth, we’re against both of those. Why? Because it’s easy to resolve a conflict. You just go to somebody that’s above you and they make a decision. Conflict is handled. It’s resolved. Managing conflict usually means squeezing it, compressing it, reducing its potential destructive power. You know, we want, let’s get to agreement as soon as we can. Let’s manage this process to manage out as much difference as possible so that we can get to agreement. It’s kind of a rush to agreement. It’s a race to agreement. So conflict actually needs to be understood. I mean, is it really something bad? And actually, no, it’s built into the universe. It’s built into the process of life. The word actually comes from the Latin conflicts, which comes from two words, of course, the prefix con, which means with and fligare, which means to strike or to hit. It’s a clash of two energy sources. It’s like two things thrown together, basically.
So in a conflict, when you have something conflicting, it simply means that one thing is being thrown into or thrown against another thing. It’s a meeting of two energy positions or sources. So far, no problem. Now you need to learn to do what we teach, which is to utilize the conflict. You want to use the conflict, you want to surface it. You want to actually make the conflict cleaner. You want to make it clearer. You want to make it stronger. You want to make it as strong as you can possibly make. So you have 2 or 3 positions in the room. Get those positions out on the table rather than trying to put all of them away. You can decide something. Decide, by the way, comes from the same root word as suicide or homicide. As soon as you decide, it means you kill off all the alternatives except for one, so you’re left with one boy, that doesn’t sound like a really smart thing to do all the time. From my point of view, I’d like to see those three ideas become as strong as they possibly can be and have them sort of fight it out. Let’s see. Let’s let’s let those ideas kind of grapple with one another where we’re not taking it personally. This is not about the person. It’s about these ideas, these concepts, these positions. And let’s let those positions go around until one emerges, maybe even a blend of 1 or 2 or all of the things that are on the table.
You want to learn from the conflict, like in a relationship when you have a fight with somebody, when it’s over, if you utilize the conflict, when the conflict is over, you are closer together, not farther apart, and you’re both smarter about it. Same thing in a group or a team. When you utilize a conflict, the goal is that when this is over, we’re going to be smarter and closer as a team. That’s the way you can tell what it is. Why? Because you become wiser and you become better at what you’re about. The stronger, more capable you become of working with conflict. Everyone gets the experience. Some get the lesson. I love this quote from T.S Eliot. You’re in a room. Everyone is having an experience, so it’s conflict. Okay, what’s the lesson here? What can we learn from this difference that is shown up in the room? Very important thing. The biggest obstacle, in my opinion, the biggest obstacle to innovation and breakthrough thinking. It’s what I call premature harmony or agreement. Premature agreement. Let’s go as quick as we can to get agreement about this boy. What a mistake. What a missed opportunity. You’ve got some little nuance or a big nuance in the idea that did not get selected, that you need to somehow bring across into your final solution. We use the concept of Aikido with our clients. You know, the martial art.
It’s a it’s an interesting word. It’s a it’s all about conflict. Aikido “do” is a way or a practice “Ai”which is to blend and “ki” which is energy. Ik doe is a way of blending energy. So when an opponent attacks you in Aikido, you don’t block or strike. It’s not angular, it’s circular. How can I take the attack, actually help the attack, quote unquote, and then steer it, steer the energy in a way that doesn’t create harm for me or the other person in its purest form. So how can you do Aikido when a conflict occurs? I learned this from a friend and a colleague named Tom Crum. Highly recommend his book called The Magic of Conflict. It’s all about how to take the principles of Aikido so that you, in fact, you thank your opponent when you’re attacked because it gives you an opportunity to expand your skill, to increase, to rise, to rise to the occasion. So, in conflict utilization, we recommend that you go on to the wiser work library and find these videos. The pinch theory very fundamental. The three worlds. How do you bridge the interpersonal gap? These four languages that people speak that quite often lead to conflict, and then finally polarity thinking from our good friend Barry Johnson, give these all of these a look and develop the ability in your life and in your relationships and in your team to utilize conflict. Don’t try to make it go away. Utilize it.
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