Where Two Are More Are Gathered Together…

conflict conflict resolution leadership leadership skills Oct 23, 2022
A group having a disagreement and arguing

I have been teaching conflict resolution for right at a quarter of a century and joke that 1st Jody 1:2 reads… Where two or more are gathered together, conflict shall exist. Humans simply see the world from their own angle instead of another person's angle. I have often referred to this as the “trash removal rule.” In psychology, it would be the reality-expectations-variance.

Imagine you are at home and you open the bin where the kitchen trash is deposited. It is often the case that one person in the relationship notices when the bin is full and asks the other person why they didn’t take the trash out and change the liner since they had just thrown something away. The person asking the questions has a frustrated or angry tone when they ask the question. After all, they have asked the other person a thousand times to notice the trash and take it out. Since this is a recurring event, we have to ask whether the upset person is upset that the trash wasn’t removed or that the person didn’t think to remove the trash.

The expectation was that the trash level would be noticed in the same way from one partner to the other and that one partner would be solely responsible for the removal of the trash without reminders. What the person who is upset expected was different than reality. This variance created the story in the mind of the upset person that the trash was not removed on purpose. This would mean that the person who was responsible for trash removal would have also been responsible for trash monitoring. It would also have to stand that the person responsible intentionally avoided their duties to upset the other person.

When you read that out loud, it sounds ridiculous. Yet, it is the basis for so many arguments between people. There are three specific things that can make the disagreement lessen.

  1. Change your story about the meaning of the event. We gain perspective when we control the meaning we give to an event. Nothing has meaning until we give it meaning.

Conflict is going to be a part of your life. Those who never speak up simply have conflict brewing internally. It is unhealthy to avoid dealing with conflict. It is unproductive to assume it will go away on its own. The most successful people take an active role in managing themselves in the midst of any conflict.

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