Conflict is something that, like most people, I’m very fond of avoiding. Conflict is exhausting and makes most people very uncomfortable. Because conflict is rejection. And humans aren’t great at rejection. We like to believe we are absolutely fantastic in every way and get a bit cranky, to say the least, when someone dares to shatter that illusion.
If you’re at a dinner party, it’s not common practice to go around disagreeing with everyone's opinions. People don’t like being told their idea is stupid, who would have guessed?
But if we have an idea that has never been challenged, how do we know that it’s a worthy idea. We naturally assume it is majestic because nobody has ever bothered to tell us it isn’t.
I’m slowly coming around to what I like to call ‘positive conflict’. Actively seeking out conflict around my theories. Finding people that disagree with my ideas, opinions, and beliefs and getting them to argue their contradictory viewpoint.
I say argue but I mean it in the most philosophical way. This kind of conflict isn’t malicious
Malicious conflict isn’t worth anyone's time. And it’s important to understand the difference between malicious conflict and positive conflict.
Malicious conflict is when somebody wants to pick apart your idea without offering a constructive argument against it.
It’s like destroying that kids tower of blocks, then just leaving all the pieces on the floor and walking away laughing and rubbing your hands together basking in the glory of your evilness.
Positive conflict is destroying the tower of blocks so that you can show them how to build what you believe, is a better tower.
As soon as they’ve gone, we decide to knock the tower down. But maybe their tower has a really structurally sound base, so we keep that and use it in our next tower.
Positive conflict is a way of thinking something through, in a way you couldn’t by yourself.
This means looking for people who have different belief systems, thought processes, upbringings and past experiences who understand what you need from them. Who understand the difference between positive and malicious conflict.
It means resisting the urge to gravitate towards the people that are very similar to you at that dinner party. Instead, striking up a conversation with the crazy, eccentric, old uncle.
Because it is only through the process of having our ideas and opinions deconstructed and proved wrong, that we can see what can’t be proved wrong.
Thanks for reading..!