Some people take pride in their ability to “see through others”. They read more into what others could be thinking. This heightened awareness might actually be an important source of conflict.
I suggest that “dumbing down” or being less prone to look for possible slights will actually reduce the level and frequency of conflict.
A guard had to stop a worker from attacking a co-worker who he knew had stolen his bus fare. He was wrong.
This business of knowing is a major cause of conflict. When we “know” something we shut down listening. In fact we feel insulted that the individual could think that we are so stupid as to accept their denial.
The certainty with which we clothe ignorance is frightening.
Better to meet a bear robbed of her cubs than a fool in his folly. Proverbs 17:12
Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him. Proverbs 26:12
I make a distinction between what I call Sophisticated Intellect and Innocent Intellect.
Sophisticated Intellect is the human intelligence and knowledge that is often treasured.
Innocent intellect is the result of selectively “Dumbing down”. Innocent Intellect might opt to ignore prompts to take offense and instead make choices that appear naïve and foolish.
I suggest that if we use more Innocent Intellect – selectively dumb down or be naïve – we will enjoy a more peaceful life and endure less conflict.
I have seen people apply great skill to find something offensive from a situation. That requires Sherlock Holmes’ perception. What if they had just moved on instead of digging deeper? Why do we have to assume ill will on the part of others? Why can’t we give others the benefit of the doubt?
Some people are too intelligent, suspicious and sensitive to live in peace. Dumb down! Let it go for more harmonious relationships.
The lack of forgiveness is another source of recurring conflict. Someone offends you. They apologize and ask for forgiveness. It happens again. Your Sophisticated Intellect indicates that that the person is not genuinely sorry. They are taking you for a fool.
You have to dumb down in human terms to be able to genuinely say: “I understand, but try not to do it again” and repeat that multiple times. If you have ever made a mistake, the need for a greater willingness to forgive should be clear.
Conflicts abound because not only do you have to contend with your Sophisticated Intellect but with colleagues who will encourage you to engage in negative thinking.
Too many of us live on red alert. We assume that there is always a hidden agenda. That outlook almost seems to seek out conflict. It does not encourage patience, understanding and a willingness to overlook slights.
It is to a man’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel. Proverbs 20:3
Another source of conflict is the readiness to identify faults in others and to correct them. While there is a role for correction, it needs to be done in love AND with understanding of where the individual is. We must deal appropriately with people where they are NOW. Timely and appropriately given feedback is to be valued. Brash off-the-cuff fault-finding is not helpful.
There are going to be people who will be incessantly irritating. Allowing them to impact your peace of mind time after time is unwise. Do not give them power over you. Refuse to be caught up in the web of conflict and simply ignore them. Getting upset actually empowers them.
This Special Report addresses the changing profile of the workforce and related attitudinal changes that have led to a situation in which leaders at all levels must increasingly apply coaching skills.
Trevor E S Smith is a Director of the Success with People Academy home the SHRM-accredited Certified Behavioral Coach award and 3-D Team Leader Certification: Leading Difficult, Dominant and Diverse Personalities.
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