The misuse of conflict could be the greatest energy crisis in our lives.
Just the other day I took a call from the office manager of a company looking for help with workplace drama and conflict. She shared her observation that there was too much gossip, wasted time, avoidance, and tension in the office. I asked her what the company had tried so far to address the problem. She said they “told everyone to stop.” Unfortunately, she reported, after a brief lull, it all started back up, only this time it was secretive and even worse.
After delivering a keynote at a recent conference, a woman came up to the table where I was signing books and eagerly grabbed a handful of our “no drama” stickers. She proudly announced to all who could hear, “I’m going to put this sticker on my office door because I simply don’t allow drama.” She’s not the first parent, teacher, or supervisor who’s grabbed no-drama stickers with the same intention.
We recently surveyed 350 people on their responses to conflict. A whopping 72% of respondents said that they choose compromise to avoid conflict. In other research by my firm, we discovered that 10% of the general population believe a zero-tolerance policy for drama is the best approach.
72% of people choose compromise to avoid conflict
10% believe a zero-tolerance policy is the best approach
Zero-tolerance for drama doesn’t work. In fact, it might be one of the most obvious signs of a drama because it reflects a misunderstanding of the purpose of conflict.
Conflict generates energy. And that energy is uncomfortable. And that’s OK.
Have you ever wanted something that you didn’t have? Did you feel the energy contained in your discomfort? What did you do? Did you use that energy to work towards your goal? Have you ever solved a big problem or achieved a significant goal, and then had that anticlimactic let down? It’s because the energy of conflict was gone. The solution: set a new goal, create another gap, generate more conflict.
Conflict isn’t the problem. Conflict is the source of energy.
The problem is the casualties caused when we misuse that energy. Any efforts to remove the conflict will necessarily reduce the creative potential. This is why I believe the misuse of conflict is the greatest energy crisis facing our world.
Things to ponder
- What’s your policy on drama? What about conflict in general?
- What do you do when conflict comes knocking?
- When have you used the energy of conflict to accomplish a big goal?