Conflict can be prevented

The study of human, interpersonal conflict has been a part of my life for over twenty-five years. I have worked with conflict from the perspective of a diverse population: corporate leaders, inmates, police officers, teachers, drop-outs, parents, chronically unemployed, employees at all levels, individuals with addiction, families in poverty, and government employees. There are individuals who enjoy the drama of conflict, but most people don’t like, understand, or do well with conflict.

Here is the good news: Conflict is time sensitive. We can prevent it, handle it, or learn from it – if we have the insight and skills to do so. Also, conflict is determined by the environment, so conflict behavior is predictable. The bad news is that human behavior is complex and sometimes unpredictable as well as environments can become unstable from outside influences. Many of those situations end up on the national news.

In sum, this is what I do know. Conflict will always exist, and it has an important purpose for every system. Although we need to know practical ways to deal with the worst kinds of conflict, it is the constant, niggling interpersonal conflicts that defeat and cripple the spirit of organizations, families, and individuals. Our individual ability to respond appropriately around conflict will be our saving grace.