Dealing with conflicts in a constructive way is of systemic relevance

Most people don’t like conflicts. It is not in human nature to be conflict loving. Even so, sometimes we cannot avoid it. A conflict arises when we try to go against someone whose behavior in a particular situation seems to be incompatible with our expectations. We then consciously blame the other side, since we consider our expectations to be justified.

The word «conflict» from the Latin «confligere» means to fight against each other. The conflict can be experienced as such by one or both sides, sometimes even capture a whole group. It always takes place on the emotional level and seldom has anything to do with the matter at hand. In other words: the matter has no clue there even is a conflict and it doesn’t care!

Have you ever analyzed in your environment why and how conflicts arise? How are they carried out? What pattern of behavior did you observe? How did the conflicting parties communicate with each other? You may have found that prejudice, intolerance or ignorance played a role, that the conflict was based on self-interest and power games, that there was a lack of empathy and willingness to compromise, or that the communication was inadequate and the person in the focus was overwhelmed.

While differences of opinion or disputes in everyday life can have a clearing and healing impact on a relationship, real conflicts with hardened opinions are much more profound and disturbing.

Unresolved conflicts take up time and energy and are about as counterproductive as trying to hit the accelerator and the handbrake at the same time. Not only those directly involved and the matter at hand suffer from it, but also your entire system.

Whatever you find disturbing in your workplace or family, express your concern before a conflict arises. This shows that you have courage and self-confidence and will earn you respect. You may even consider from the beginning to bring in a neutral (non-emotional) third party for mediation, someone who has the necessary distance and can de-escalate the communication. I am happy to offer my experience and support before a conflict causes greater distress for you.

Until then, may your days be conflict-free and productive.

Best wishes, Tatjana Gaspar