Carol Bowser on conflict as a symptom

Conflict is the symptom that someone is not getting heard

Conflict Resolution
Written by Carol Bowser

So, I often hear, and you probably hear this to, that conflict is a good thing. That conflict can spur action and can help teams reach to a higher level. I find that a little disingenuous. I almost want to say unsatisfied. When people talk about conflict, what they generally mean is they’re feeling unsatisfied.

They might feel as though there’s power plays going on. They don’t feel heard. They experience the tension, the stress, and sometimes the helplessness and hopelessness.

And having years of the word conflict associated with those types of feelings and emotions, and also world conflict and people battling it out and trying to get one upmanship. I find that’s a really hard thing to overcome. I like to think more in terms of something important is going on, and a conflict is a symptom of something different.

So, being able to reframe it out of conflict to saying, hey, we’ve got some tension, we’ve got important conversations going on. People might feel impeded. We think that there’s a gap in what we’re trying to accomplish and how we’re accomplishing it.