What does it mean to be conflict ‘competent’

My motto, the tagline to this website and my Conflict Competence consultancy, is Doing Conflict Better. How do I define those words, especially ‘conflict’, ‘competent’, and ‘better’? I start with an assumption that most people want to be able to handle conflict situations, and that most people already have ideas and skills that allow them to function in conflicts. That’s where ‘better’ fits. No matter how good our ideas and skills, we can always get better: Social interactions keep us healthy and reduce stress

While some people enjoy conflict, it isn’t common most times, and for most people. That means ‘conflict’ is more than interesting disagreements over drinks with friends, or conversational debates about political differences. Conflict, in this meaning, reduces quality of life because the situation affects interaction with the other(s) in the conflict.

Being skilled at conflict is a positive contribution towards quality of life. Thus, ‘competence’ means to have appropriate skills and experience to deal with those stresses and pressures that come with interactions impairing your sense of wellbeing and health.

Conflict competent people have strengths and wisdom to engage in effective, productive, and generally happy relationships.

Conflict competency is also an attitude

Attitudes include how we chose to perceive our interactions. We can be motivated to be competent or decide not to work on a skill set

This week, I was consulted by a delightful person and her representative. She was about to confront her manager and wanted advice on approaches that might be most likely to result in win/win for everyone. This was already a step towards becoming competent in handling conflict. She was showing the attitude of wanting the interpersonal interaction to be effective for everyone.

Attitudes and competencies are not unchangeable

It was a pleasure watching her attitude change as she became more conflict competent. When she was ready to speak with her manager, she was practiced, conflict competent, and doing conflict better.

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