Why learning conflict resolution skills won't help

conflict resolution skills

The way you view conflict has a tremendous impact on the way you respond and react to the conflicts in your life. Learning better, shinier, or newer conflict resolution skills won’t make the kind of difference you think it will, unless you also reconsider what you believe about conflict in general.

If you view conflict as a fight, you ask yourself, How can I win it?

If you view conflict as a problem, you ask, How can I fix it?

If you view conflict as a catastrophe, you ask, How can I avoid it?

If you view conflict as a lesson, you ask, What can I learn from it?

If you view conflict as an opportunity, you ask, How can I take advantage of it?

If you view conflict as a puzzle, you ask, How can I solve it?

I can teach you every conflict resolution skill in the book, but how successfully you put them to use will be determined by your frame of mind. I can teach you the mechanics of good listening but how you listen will depend on how you view conflict. View it as a fight? You’ll listen for ways you can turn their words into your victory. View it as a problem? You’ll listen for ways you can give a constant stream of advice for fixing it. View it as a lesson? You’ll listen for what you can learn about yourself, them, your family, or your organization. View it as a catastrophe? You’ll listen to figure out how you can get out of there as soon as possible.

This is why, when I teach, mentor, and train, I don’t focus heavily on skills. I focus on habits of mind and how to center ourselves with them. Most of us already have a fairly decent set of conflict resolution skills in our toolkits; we don’t need more refinement or shiny new tools we can toss on top of the formerly shiny new tools.

Better to learn and cultivate habits of mind that help us access our good skills and use them optimally.

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