Conflict can sometimes strengthen us more than any other kind of experience. The lessons we learn through conflict tend to stick because they come at an emotionally charged price.
When we’re knocked down and frustrated, pride and easy answers have failed us we tend to be open and on the lookout for insights and solutions. In fact, we grasp at anything that will help us make sense of the situation. Often, these become lesson that last a lifetime.
There is the scenario: you have your immediate boss who has as his favorite line‘’ I’m not asking you… I’m telling you”. This boss knows only one way to work; he bullies and belittles people into doing what he wants.
You do your best to be upbeat and positive, but most days you leave for work in the morning and came home at night in the same condition: jumpy, frustrated, and angry.
You go to work every day with your guts twisted, fear making you second and third guess everything you do. No matter how much you are paid, under the hollow smile you have on your way from the bank, you’re unhappy.
Assuming that you will quit that job you will eventually, and this is assuming that you are totally true to yourself, you will find that that harsh time as one of the most formative era of your professional life.
I am talking about you losing your mild manners, fear of confrontation and the urge to give in to maintain the peace. You had to get tough or get extinct. The fear fueling your second guessing trains you to think steps ahead of anybody else.
Conflict, in this case irresolvable conflict, teaches you things that might have taken you ages to learn but above all it makes you even a better leader. Knowing what it’s like to be dishonored and disrespected helps you understand how important it’s to treat the people who work for you right. Sometimes when you’re in a situation, you don’t learn what to do. You learn what not to do.
In the clear vision of hindsight, you will see those times with the most unreasonable people or bosses as career high points of sorts. You will learn never to accept that kind of behavior from a peer. Such experience, prepares you for the next job knowing how to play to your strengths not compromising in an area so important to the quality of the work you create. You can now trust your gut instinct.
You know the feeling, you go to work looking around corners, knowing that running into the person is inevitable. The phone rings, your email beeps, and if it’s from HIM or HER, your stomach sinks a little.
The conflicts can be used as a stepping stone to higher ground. Progress is not fun instead it’s energy sapping, awful and it’s unfairly naïve to pretend otherwise.
Conflict can’t hurt you if you don’t let it; if you refuse to see it as an obstacle or to make the loss (job, promotion, argument, rapport) a defining moment in your career, but instead dare to think differently about the whole thing.
This is more than just making lemonade from the lemons you’re handed. It’s about understanding that we’re strengthened in the fire even if that only becomes clear in hindsight. It’s about acknowledging that conflict is required for progress.
Nyagapfizi Emmanuel is a Management Information Systems manager