Adversity made easier with Conflict Competence

Sometimes, especially when life already feels hard, you just don’t want to deal with conflict. For many people, conflict absorbs energy, adds stress, and depletes you with worry about what to do next.

Since you’re going to experience conflict in life, it is wise to learn how to Do Conflict Better. Everyone falls into repeating conflict patterns, the conflict strategy that is your go-to default. Once you recognize your conflict patterns, you have also identified how satisfied you are with your pattern.

Here are ways to improve your ability to cope with conflict.

Being conflict competent means:

  1.         Understanding the patterns in your conflict interactions
  2.         Enhancing the patterns that improve your conflict interactions
  3.         Changing the patterns that don’t improve your conflict interactions

Conflict patterns

If you recognize that your pattern is to escalate a conflict, you also have identified if that pattern gets you what you want. The tricky part is to know if what you want is sustainable. For example, if your pattern is to escalate and your adversary backs down, does that buy you temporary short term quiet at the cost of a long term relationship?

Let’s say your pattern is to cycle through the same kinds of conflicts each time. One tip is to identify if what you think you want is indeed your real desired outcome.

If you really want more than temporary gains, and your conflict pattern gets you only temporary gains each time but the conflict keeps returning, your conflict pattern is not satisfying your real goal.

Conflict Competence is a life skill

You can be competent in your interactions when things are going well. Being competent when feeling the crush of stress, strain and pressure is different. When conflict arises, those skills you exhibit in your daily interactions can seem inadequate to deal with adversity and adversaries.

Any skill you have to deal with people and situations doesn’t hide or evaporate when conflict arises. You still have what you know, but conflict makes it hard to access and use.

Conflict Competence is the ability and attitude to apply what you know in conflicts situations that arise, even when you’re stressed.

Conflict Competence is a learning opportunity

Through competently handled conflicts we learn, grow and develop, which are unexpected positive outcomes of conflict.

And you never know when you might need these skills to cope with adversity. Fortunately, I have a toolbox of conflict competencies and must have used them all to get through the medical stresses that saved my life.

After I wrote this in 2008, I got a shock in 2010

From the time the doctor said I had aggressive, late stage, Triple Negative breast cancer, I never stopped finding entertaining ways to practice conflict competence. I had to. Getting pissed off with a nurse putting toxins in my vein isn’t a helpful response. Getting angry at cancer isn’t a survival strategy.

Being conflict competent helped me adapt to the new reality, interpret a scary amount of information and, ultimately, find advantages in living breastlessly.

You never know when you might be called upon to be conflict competent.

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