I am often asked what separates Higher Ground Conflict Management from just dealing with a difficult person. The answer is paradigm. Managing conflict from the Higher Ground begins with a mindset, which is tempered by a few premises. These understandings help put everything else into context.
- The best time to overcome a conflict is before it comes up. Conflict prevention is always your optimum conflict management strategy.
- All conflict is a result of poor communication. If you dissect any conflict down to its initial root causes, you will discover that, at some point, communication between the involved parties has broken down. So keeping open, respectful communication flowing is your best prevention strategy.
- Nurture is a driving factor in how we view conflict. Whether you are a man or woman (and it’s different for each), nurture is a driving factor in how we process conflict. Understanding the paradigms that we are programmed with is vital to preventing, managing and resolving conflict. You see, little boys are taught, practically from birth, that the most important thing is to be respected. This is why they have schoolyard scuffles, because “you disrespected me.” Now a six-year-old is probably not going to verbalize it in his head that way, but that is the bottom line. So, for men, it’s about respect. Little girls, on the other hand, are taught, practically from birth, that the most important thing is to be liked. This is why, often (not every time, because nothing is absolute, but often) men will jump into conflict while women will flee from it. Men can be involved in a conflict with someone one moment and, once resolved, forget about it completely. Women will often internalize the fact that there is a conflict at all as a negative mark on their overall human value. This early conditioning tempers how each of us approaches conflict.
- There is a profound difference between reacting to a situation and responding to it. Reaction is emotional; it’s visceral, knee-jerk. Response requires thought. When you react to a circumstance, something or someone, you allow outside entities to control your psyche. No one should have control of your emotional serenity, but you. Response, on the other hand, requires thought. The process of responding to what someone has said or done, or to a particular circumstance involves thinking through what you want the result to be – and then acting or speaking in a manner that will bring about that result.
- There are no difficult people – only difficult behaviors. Separating the person from their behavior allows you to address a problem without attacking a person.
Managing conflict from a Higher Ground perspective always involves taking the time to think through a situation and approach it from a respectful paradigm. Keeping these five foundational premises in mind helps make that easier. That doesn’t mean it will ALWAYS be easy. It does allow for more respectful and effective resolution.