The Impact of Conflict

Andrew continued his workshop on conflict transformation by stressing that the fundamental way to prevent conflict is by mastering oneself and knowing the other person as well as knowing oneself.  He said that the journey to transformation involves unravelling the actors, the structures and the culture.  If we can do this, we are on the road to transformation.

If we cannot do this, the cost of conflict impacts on productivity, relationships and health. In fact, 85% of all careers are derailed for reasons related to emotional incompetence which leads to conflict.

Andrew distinguished between healthy conflict that leads to change and unhealthy conflict that leads to an absence of trust, a fear of conflict, a lack of commitment, an avoidance of accountability and a certain inattention to results (cf the work of Patrick Lencioni).

Part of the cause of conflict lies in the differences of personality, and Andrew classified various personalities along the lines of the four elements of earth, air, water and fire, showing how each of them relates to the task in hand and the relationships that are created in the process.

Later, Andrew stressed that the dangers of avoiding obvious conflict resulted in the following outcomes:

  • Necessary changes aren’t made
  • Small problems grow bigger
  • Discontent builds up
  • Resentment grows.

He explained that conflict begins as a result of how we respond to differences that manifest, and then drew up a chart that showed how these differences lead to an escalation of conflict leading to the destruction of the other and ultimately of the self.

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