I hate conflict! Doesn't matter who it's with or what the reason is, I just hate it. It makes me uncomfortable and leaves me feeling agitated. I tend to be more of a "flight" than "fight" kind of gal.
The thing is, conflict is a part of life. So we all have to learn how to deal with it. It happens at home, at work, even at our places of worship.
The older I get, the more I have come to realize that conflict doesn't always end in a negative way. Sometimes it can strengthen a relationship. If it's handled with respectful honesty, it can enlighten both sides and bring change and understanding.
Two years ago I had an opportunity to test this theory with my boss. He had hired a new MA to help cover his expanding hours. Unfortunately, she needed more hours than he was offering...so he gave her mine.
Needless to say, I was a little miffed. Out of the blue I get a call from the supervisor telling me I'd be working with a different doctor on Tuesday afternoons starting the next week. I cried for days. I loved the doc I was working with. I had been with him for over seven years and had known him for eight years before that. The hurt I felt was overwhelming.
At some point, he found out I was struggling and called me. I'm sure he was sorry he did about two minutes into the conversation. I had gotten over my fear of conflict at let him have it. Not in a mean, yelling sort of way--but in a "let me bear my heart to you through deep guttural sobs" kind of way. He was speechless.
I got a beautiful floral arrangement the next day with a lovely card saying, "Wishing I'd been more thoughtful".
I'm not saying I handled this well. But because I was willing to be honest about my feelings and willing to forgive his initial lack of them, we were able to resolve the conflict. He apologized, I accepted. He figured out a way to give me my hours back, I swallowed my pride, and went back to work for him.
It involved give and take on both sides.
Throughout the whole ordeal, I realized some things about myself. I am extremely loyal. I love feeling like I'm part of a team. I want to feel like I matter, like I make a difference, like I'm important. Being made to feel like I was expendable was excruciating to me.
I also realized that I would probably be a terrible business person. He was making a good financial decision. It costs him less to have an MA. In order to get her, he needed to give her more hours. It was logical for a guy who felt the need to tighten the expenditure belt. He was not in the wrong, he just left out the part about explaining his situation to me. If he had, since I'm loyal and a team player, I would have moved on--sad but with understanding.
It's been two years since then. I'm still there. The MA has moved on and hasn't been replaced. My doc and I have a very good relationship. He gets me and I get him. He still makes me crazy now and then and I occasionally overreact to things. Our relationship is no worse for the wear. Maybe it's even better.
I have lots more stories about conflict with my family, but I think I'll keep those to myself. I don't always handle those with poise and grace either. I do find that on the homefront, humor goes A LONG WAY in helping to resolve conflict. If I can make my husband or kids laugh during a heated discussion, I know we'll be okay. It's often the turning point for us.
Do you have any tricks to getting through conflict? We'd all love to hear them. I'll start the list: