The Role of Conflict LO9735

Scott R. Cypher (
Wed, 4 Sep 1996 11:46:49 -0400

Replying to LO9716 --

Concept: Feeling I'm Right, You're Wrong vs. I have a different point of
view from you.

>By removal of one party, I was suggesting that such conflicts can be
>destructive and get in the way of teamwork. The removal would not always
>be out of the company (my example was a 50 person business unit) but just
>out of a regular sphere of influence. The important thing is to
>acknowledge that these conflicts are real and, if submerged, will act
>against the rate of progress of changes owing to the energy diverted.

What is learned by either party when this removal happens? Neither learns
much from the situation, because it didn't come to a conclusion between
the two involved. These individuals come to rely on an outside force
(boss, team leader, position power) to intervene when there is conflict,
and do not learn how to more effectively manage their relationships.

It gets to a phenomenon we call "I'm right, no....I'm right" where the two
individuals in conflict are working to beat down the other person, because
they think the other is wrong. I often struggle with this judgement of
the other person, I tend to judge others wrong when their point of view is
just different (see an earlier post of mine about judgement, evaluation
and discrimination). People in conflict are living in a judgement cycle,
their decision is already made....My point is that removal of one party
says to the person remaining..."See, I was right". and neither learns from
the situation.

>As I pointed out in my original post, some level of conflict is healthy.
>What I am promting is that it be maintained as conflict of ideas and
>actions rather than conflicts of a personal nature.

People have certain negative values associated with the word conflict, it
infers judgement. I believe that until we view ideas and people as just
different, not right, wrong or inconflict, we'll never get to the root of
conflict, that I interpret points of view that are different from mine as
judgement of me. When we start seeing differences rather than "wrongness"
or conflict, then we will treat ideas separate from people. As long as I
use the words "conflict", "right", "wrong", "good", "bad", "but", I am
judging the other person, and not their ideas. Ideas are not right,
wrong, or in conflict. They are just different.

>I would sum up what I am promoting by beginning every opinion or assertion
>by ensuring that the following is communicated to the person in
>opposition: "However much I may be at odds with your position, let it be
>very clear that I respect you as a person and also like to hear your
>ideas. What I want to accomplish is to pursue the best outcome for ...
>(our team) regardless of whose idea it was" - then we should be able to

We are hard wired to take disagreement personally, because we tend to feel
judged. I have seen people use this type of tool, with me and others, and
the feeling I sense is that they are discounting everything I just said or
will say.

When I am "at odds" with what another says, my tendency is to think you
are wrong, and I am right. As long as I think you're wrong, my contention
is I won't actually hear to what you are saying. In this conflict

Listening is: I'll wait for you to finish babbling, think about my
answer, and ignore you.

Hearing is: I understand what you just said, and see it is just
different, not wrong or right, from my point of view.

-- (Scott R. Cypher)

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