In mediation, we often have to overcome conflict myths such as “Only the weak compromise”, or “I need to be tough so I am treated with respect.”
But we’ve found at the mediation table that the opposite is true; if you can articulate your case, you mediate. One of the strongest things to do is compromise, and if you are tough, you might be treated with fear, but this is different than respect.
Yet, there is a mediation myth that is correct: being wrapped up in conflict with another person makes us all feel weaker. When you are hopelessly embroiled in conflict with someone, you’ve allowed that person to take much of your power.
In every situation, there is at least one thing you can do to regain your power. You might familiarize yourself with different resolution processes or learn how your brain responds to conflict situations. Perhaps you could consider the power dynamics of the relationship, or articulate your specific goals and interests – along with the steps you’ll take to get such needs addressed. No matter how seemingly insignificant, take steps to regain control over the conflict.
If I think I’m completely dependent on the other person to resolve the conflict or that it’s all their fault and there’s nothing I have to do differently, then this only serves to disempower me. Alternatively, if I take some control over the conflict by choosing a resolution process, or to learn more about the nature of conflict, or consciously choose how to react in a constructive way to the situation, then I add to my sense of empowerment.
This process of empowering oneself is how many employees can ultimately experience situations of tumultuous conflict as a time of personal growth. They learn more about themselves and have made decisions about who they want to be in the face of challenges. They are also more intentional about their workplace responsibilities and relationships.
Control conflict. Don’t let it control you.