The Source of All Conflict

Conflict is generally misunderstood…we think it is an aspect of other people and their wrong perceptions. Right? Actually other people are not the origin of your conflict. There is an underlying reason for all the conflict in your life and it has to do with you, not them.

We avoid conflict for secret reasons, as well. Some reasons we reportedly avoid it include not wanting to hurt someone’s feelings or not wanting to stir things up more. Both sound reasonable but neither is the true source of avoidance. Fear is generally the culprit but fear of what?

I was recently in a situation where I witnessed conflict bubbling to the surface with two people. One woman started out with a smile and what I call a back-handed compliment. The recipient of the back-handed compliment narrowed her eyes, and replied, “Thank you for sharing that." Within minutes the smiles were gone and one of the women was standing up yelling in the general vicinity of the other nonsensical accusations and slights from some time in the recent and not so recent past.

What sparked that exchange from both people is the same thing because the source of all conflict in your life is self-doubt. Self-doubt encompasses “I’m not being heard” and “I’m not liked around here.” Self-doubt is the driving force of conflict because nobody likes feeling less than, dismissed, de-valued, left out and so on, so we cover those feelings up with anger and project it out onto someone else.

Take away the self-doubt and you will take away the conflict. You can still have a disagreement. You can still have an issue you want to address. But if there is no self-doubt, there is no conflict. There is just something happening and removing the self-doubt allows you to maintain clarity and balance in determining how to respond. This is path to transformation in leadership.

Terry Hasty is Vice-President of MindSpring Consulting, Inc. in Asheville, NC.