Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Healing Time

How does your family handle fighting?

When I was growing up we used to not speak to each other for days at a time, even weeks. That's right, not speak.

We would argue, hash it out, and then you'd think it would be over. But no. The fight would hang on in the air, forever it seemed, until we had all forgotten about it and moved on.

Conflict never feels good. Emotional conflict hurts as badly as a fistfight, maybe worse. There is literally no way to rip that pain out of your gut.

Organizations are like families on a hugely compounded scale. They are comprised of individuals, who walk in self-protective tribes, organized in units, cross-pollinating with other folks like-minded and less so. 

In a sense we are ecosystems, and at times we collide with one another like atoms as we bounce around the walls. There's no avoiding it.

But there are ways to handle conflict that are more mature than my family of origin. Over time I am learning them. They feel unfamiliar, like I'm walking around in a different country. I like what I see, but I'm scared nevertheless, just because it is such a change.

One of these ways, strange as it sounds, is to create a kind of mental space in your head where you are prepared for the fact that conflict will occur. And you will accept that it is there, and it is real, and you will not run from it. 

Sometimes it is the discomfort of not wanting to fight, that makes the anxiety around conflict even harder. 

When you have that piece of real estate -- I suppose we can call it mental peace -- you walk into the room more sedate and centered. And when stuff comes up, you might even find the capacity to look around the room, look at the others who are feeling that same conflict in that very same moment, and actually laugh. In relief. 

Goodness gracious: We "cried!" And nobody died!

It's a good feeling when conflict stays good. It's a better way to live your life.

* All opinions my own.