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Sunday, July 13, 2014


Conflict happens!  It occurs in every organizational arrangement and every relationship.  Depending on how we manage the conflict, the results can range from total catastrophe to cathartic experience (and everything in between).    

I did a presentation titled “Calming the Storm” last year for the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals Assistant Principal Workshop, during which we explored strategies for managing conflict in a productive way (and believe it or not, assistant principals get to deal with a LOT of conflict).

Conflict managed in an unhealthy manner causes personal anxiety, creates barriers to success, and tears down relationships.  Unhealthy conflict is based on one side or the other “winning” or diminishing the other party.

On the other hand, well-managed conflict moves us fluidly toward our goals and makes relationships stronger.  It is centered on understanding, empathy, clarity, and seeking a better-than-the-present solution.

There are a range of possibilities by which we can handle conflict, shown below.  The healthier approaches are shown in green text, the unhealthy in red.

:-)  Integrating- A "third way" is sought by which all parties are affirmed/satisfied.

:-)  Compromising - Each side wins a little, each side loses a little.

:(   Dominating - Using power to impose your will on the other.

:(   Obliging - Giving in to the other person/group.

:(   Avoiding - Play like it's not happening.

As is the case in most life-issues, we get to choose how we deal with conflict.  And, since there is always the "other" involved in conflict, we have to be aware of how they are approaching and dealing with the conflict as well.  Interestingly, we get to approach each conflict situation as an independent/unique event; thus, we have to make a conscious decision about how we will handle it with each new occurrence.     

At the end of the day, our personal health and well-being is dependent on how satisfied we are at the resolution of the conflict.  Same goes for the "other." 

THAT is conflict's derivative.  (Think green, not red).

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