“Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.” -Matthew 5:25
Nobody likes conflict. It’s always uncomfortable, often frustrating, mostly intimidating and almost never easy, but it isn’t always bad. In fact, it can actually make things better than they were before the conflict arose. You probably think my trolley has derailed, but stick with me a few minutes as I share the five ways in which conflict can be a good thing.
1. Clear the air of misunderstandings
Conflicts rarely arise from perfectly contented parties. Conflict usually means that at least one of the participants is unhappy about something. This unhappiness usually doesn’t resolve itself. It takes a discussion which often becomes a conflict in order to bring it out into the open where it has a chance to be resolved. Conflict can be a good thing if it is handled correctly because it has the ability to clear the air of the underlying issues allowing the parties involved to resolve their differences amicably.
2. Increase honesty in a relationship
Even if a disagreement isn’t an important issue in a relationship, a slight disagreement kept in secret has a way of festering causing an air of dishonesty in a relationship that can create other problems later on. A discussion of an ongoing issue may bring an honesty to the relationship that may build a trust that might not have been there had the discussion not taken place.
3. Make friendships closer
Honesty builds trust and trust is what relationships need to weather the storms. All relationships will have storms, but those who are equipped to handle them will come through it even stronger. Relationships that are devoid of honesty and trust will have a much more difficult time doing so.
4. You might learn something
Conflicts have several underlying unanswered questions at their heart. Bringing these questions out in the open allows the free flow of information as communication is in its purest form. This is where listening affords us the ability to learn something about the other person or his views that will help us better understand him or the world around us.
5. Better relations with customers
Not only do our personal relationships benefit from some conflict (resolution), but our business relationships do as well. I worked in customer service with two large companies when I was young. I served seven years. Got off for good behavior. But seriously, I learned one very important thing from all the complaints I handled over those years.
Conflict is an opportunity. Handled correctly, conflict can result in a customer so satisfied with your company that he is more loyal now than he would have been had he never had a conflict to be resolved. Without the conflict, Mr. Customer might have thought the company offered a decent product at a reasonable price. After having Sally Sunshine handle his customer service complaint, he could be so incredibly impressed that he recommends ABC Company to everyone he knows.
Conflicts don’t always work out this way, but they are opportunities to better our relationships. If we think of conflict this way, we are less likely to be intimidated by them and more likely to resolve them in a way that, at the very least, is less painful and frustrating than we had first expected and, at best, increases our blessings through closer relationships in our personal and professional lives.
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