CONFLICT: Why it is Necessary and How You Deal With It

By Victor Oladosu

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Awhile ago, it was claimed that more than twenty-something people were put to death in the northern part of Nigeria. The suspects? An aggrieved group that has a different opinion of how and who should run the government. Some university students also had their school closed indefinitely. Why? The school introduced a new policy, it was outrageous to them and the situation became a free for all.

These scenarios are as a result of conflicts within the system. Conflict is disharmony between incompatible or antithetical persons, ideas, or interest, to come into collision or disagreement; be contradictory, at variance, or in opposition. Conflicts between people are frequent, natural and an inevitable part of life —at school, work, home, market, relationships, even the society at large. But quite sadly most of us don’t really accept this fact, and we still get distressed and surprised when it is clear that a conflict has emerged. Instead of dealing with it, we mismanage our anger and either implode, or explode.

However, productive conflict breaches holes into a plan or an idea, find the holes and gaps and bring forth an even stronger idea once the gaps are filled. The result of a stronger, discussed plan is increased effectiveness, and overall satisfaction for those involved.

Never let fear of conflict hold you or your team back. Healthy conflict is what makes the best organizational teams move forward as everyone has something different to bring to the table. The difference is holding yourself accountable to conflicting when necessary and creating that environment where you can share and receive productive and respectful feedback so the team and the organization benefits.

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You must accept that people’s point of view will differ from yours. When this happens, we tag them “enemies”, hold a grudge against them, most people demonstrate that by backbiting. As children, students, employees, or as spouses we have experienced losing in a conflict because we fear parents, teachers and bosses have advantage over us. Even though we know the feelings of resentment, anger, dislike, even hostility that we experience as a result of losing. This win-lose conflict resolution has created much damage on interpersonal relationships; creates distance, separation, dislike, even hatred. It’s the reason why some people leave their jobs for new ones, students drop out and marriages break up.

The weird thing though is that we must first disagree to agree. Most often if you are trying something out for the first time, it is only natural we don’t get the exact desired product initially. That’s probably because we are not doing something right, but when that wrong is righted, the desired result surfaces.

Managing Conflicts

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How conflicts get resolved is the critical factor in any relationship. In fact, it is the most critical factor in determining whether a relationship will be healthy or unhealthy, mutually satisfying or unsatisfying, friendly or unfriendly, deep or shallow, intimate or cold. The goal is to find a solution to the conflict that meets the needs of both people, a win-win situation.

Once you’re aware that you’re in conflict, what you do next really matters. Acknowledge that a conflict exists. Very often, we decide not to acknowledge this hoping that the conflict will somehow go away or resolve itself. That rarely happens. Only when conflicts are brought out into the open do they have the chance of being dealt with effectively.

Beyond personal conflict management and resolution, examining ethnic or religion differences as it relates to Nigeria it is possible to have peaceful coexistence if we follow these rules.

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