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Necessary Conflict

We may not think the word ‘necessary’ is one that would qualify the word ‘conflict’. However, especially in our interdependent relationships, the importance of raising issues that are important to us – even if they conflict with the other person’s perspective – cannot be overstated. It is, after all, how we discover one another’s values, interests, needs, hopes, expectations and beliefs. If we want our relationships to thrive, sharing these integral parts of who we are is necessary. Otherwise, among other things, our knowledge of and connection to each other is limited and superficial.

All of what I’ve said so far likely makes sense, at least in theory. Even though we accept the above premise, it is often the nature of the delivery of our messages, our receipt of the other person’s, and our response to them that results in high levels of friction and emotions – leaving us questioning the necessity of the conflict. That is, anything necessary to be learned about one another and ourselves in our relationship can be easily missed if we don’t step back early on and consider what we are hearing, what the other person wants us to hear, and what we want the other person to hear about what is important to us.

This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog asks you to consider a dispute with someone that seemed unnecessary and remains unresolved.

  • What is the dispute about?
  • What is unnecessary about it, in your view?
  • What remains unresolved for you? What might remain unresolved for her or him?
  • To what did you specifically react that the other person said or did? How did you react?
  • What important need, value, hope, etc. of yours do you think the other person didn’t hear?
  • To what did the other person specifically react that you said or did? How did she or he react?
  • What important need, value, hope, etc. might she or he have been expressing within her or his reaction?
  • What else might you think is necessary for the other person to realize about you and what upset you?
  • What else might be necessary for the other person – that she or he wants you to realize about what upset her or him?
  • On reflection here, what was necessary about the conflict?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

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