Do you and conflict go well together?

Are you – like many people – tolerating, settling for, and being okay with a situation that’s a bit crappy, or even really crappy at work? Although you’re unhappy, frustrated, and feeling stuck to a more or lesser degree, you just, well, don’t ‘like’ conflict. So you don’t address it. And while you wish, wait and hope for things to improve, all that’s happening, really, is that you’re giving up your personal power. By not having a voice, you are in fact, by default, endorsing what you are allowing – whether you like it or not.

If you don’t like it, the first thing that must change is you

Here’s the thing. If you don’t like how someone is treating you – your colleagues, your boss, someone in your team, business partner, stakeholders, suppliers or anyone else – it’s your job and your responsibility to voice it, whether you like conflict or not. If you don’t, you’re simply giving away your responsibility of making it better for you – and maybe others too.

Others may not share your perception or truth of what’s going on

If you’re expecting others to notice what you’re seeing, or change their behaviour by somehow mindreading what’s going on for you, then you’re playing a victim role that could be hurting you, and your perceived or real performance. Your truth of what’s happened based on your interpretations could be vastly different than someone else’s reality.

Conflict is your perception of it

I don’t know anyone who really enjoys conflict. Yet, what is potential conflict to someone, might not even register on another person’s radar for conflict. Often, what we fear or worry about, rarely happens. A recent University of Cincinnati study found that 85% of our worries never come true and that 79% of us handle the 15% that does happen with surprising ability to turn the situation around.

Change your relationship with conflict

Conversations that challenge your status quo can give you fresh thinking and perspective that can enable you to see things with a different lens:

  • What if it was just a conversation that could easily resolve it for you?
  • What if you didn’t have to worry about being judged, and what others thought, then what would you do instead? Where would you focus instead?
  • How could you clearly articulate what you wanted to say by writing it down ahead of time?
  • What if you could disagree with someone and be okay to disagree?
  • What if being right or justifying your view didn’t matter? What if being kind and compassionate mattered more? If you were living your values, what would you do? What would a role model do?
  • What if it was your job to speak up (because you’re paid to deal with the hard stuff and get on with it. Leadership is not about being liked or being popular at the end of the day).

Nothing has meaning but the meaning you give it

Conversations, whether they’re easy, hard or somewhere in between are part and parcel of professional life. The degree to which you like hard conversations and whether you feel like having them, shouldn’t determine whether you have them or not. Ultimately doing what’s right for you, your team, and your organisation, should guide you on the conversations you have based on your values and what’s most important to you.


Changing your relationship with conflict can drive your results and performance – more than you think. Your attitude to perceived conflict is key. By being curious, open and seeking to understand rather than being understood, you’ll create the opportunity for others to share and, in doing so, create the environment that will enable you to move forward in a healthy and resourceful way too.

What conversations are you now going to have?

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