Conflict Dealers

My wife hates conflict.

It used to turn her inside out. Some people have phobias of spiders or eating turnips (understandable), others have phobias of people not getting along.

Erin is lovely and a peace maker which is a great match for me because I think peace is a bit boring. I like progress instead (is also what I say to myself when I get bored and into trouble).

One time I had to deal with a tense people situation (I honestly can’t remember what it was because it was one of a thousand) and was asked “how did you handle it?” by a friend.

“I just put all the cats in a bag and gave it a shake.”

You know, put all the people in the same room and started the ball rolling with a “So… I heard that YOU said that ____, is this true?” Then the mad scramble where everyone tries to recite the silly argument their brain told them to defend itself (my dad calls these excuses)…

You can tell who’s right or wrong by whose story changes from “I did nothing wrong” to “It was a communication problem and we’re both to blame” to “Maybe I didn’t actually do the right thing”. This takes about twenty minutes per issue but can still bring progress, unless there’s no Conflict Dealers in the room who keep steering the conversation back to the topic at hand until everyone actually apologizes.

And real apologies, folks, don’t sound like “I’m sorry you felt that way”.

Oh.

My.

Goodness.

Now YOU get to treat me like garbage AND call me immature for bringing it up??

If someone in a conflict room keeps sticking to their silly story after several attempts it’s likely they have never actually been held accountable before, so one must keep returning to the actual issue or they’ll do what their parents allowed them to do.

But no one respects people who enable them to escape honesty.

Putting people in the same room is painful because there’s no way to insulate yourself with your stories in a group, and it’s a painful revelation that all of your carefully created facades aren’t quite as innocent as your brain told you they were.

There’s also no meeting of the minds without some form of conflict. Our current Canadian moment that tells us respect is when everyone “agrees with me” leaves us with unearned respect and makes liars of us all.

Conflict Dealers secretly believe something the rest of us don’t and this is their super power:

Things Will Work Out.

Don’t ever chair a hard meeting without this thought. If you simply can’t you should consider asking someone to use their gift and sit in that seat.

Conflict Dealers are willing to sacrifice being right for forward movement. They know there’s no connection with correction.

Progress is impossible to make if you have to be right. It’s a self righteousness that my mom described as “walking in a yard full of rakes”.

In the same way an entrepreneur has a paranoia about what could bury her in the market place, a conflict dealer has a paranoia that what everybody currently thinks (INCLUDING THEMSELVES) might be the actual issue, not the issue.

They don’t trust their brains fully because, well, their brains were present and in agreement with every terrible decision they’ve made.

They roll into the meeting as willing to laugh at themselves as they are to willing to hold your feet to the fire. It’s powerful.

Things get weird and stay weird without them.

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