Conflict conveys gloom and negativism, making it seem an unlikely medium as a personal development tool. That’s because our general concept of achieving personal growth is acquiring skills and cultivating attitudes through formal classes, life experiences, strategies and outlooks that are acceptable to society. But conflict, unwelcome as it is, does have its uses, if viewed from a slightly offbeat perspective.
Conflicts arise in personal and professional relationships because of difference of opinions, misinformation, competition, lack of resources of time or money, and different value systems. As you advance in your professional growth, there is a corresponding personal growth too.
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When creating your own personal development plan, don’t treat the conflicts you encounter as obstacles, but as challenges that need a resolution. Sure, disagreements bring pain, anger, grief, hurt, and chaos. But you can emerge from them a better person.
Using Conflict as a Personal Development Tool
It helps you define your set of standards and ethics.
Conflict can be an occasion for looking into your own set of ethics and values, such as family over career success, or close family ties over making more money. They are formed by personal experiences while growing up, culture, faith and education. A conflict with your superior or significant other may be caused by opposing beliefs and values. With this knowledge, you understand yourself and the other person better.
For example, your manager wants you to put in overtime work on a regular basis, which you are averse to. While your boss has the company’s successful expansion as a goal, you value family time over extra pay. Or your spouse wants to work overtime to earn more, reducing time spent with you or the kids. Try arriving at a compromise for a mutually agreeable solution. Work from home, which you or the spouse can do after dinner. Or work two days after office hours instead of four.
It develops your inner strength.
In the real world, conflict is a typical occurrence. The process of dealing with it in a non-aggressive manner and finding a resolution builds your inner strength, enhancing your mental and emotional capacity for meeting challenges and coming out of them unbroken. Inner strength also requires physical capacity, for without good health from proper nutrition and rest, your mental skills are diminished. When you develop strength in your core, you become more resilient, empathetic, and compassionate, and you’ll have fewer conflicts.
Instead of letting your ego rule your decisions and wanting to win a conflict at all costs, try active listening. By paying attention to the other person or persons, you begin to understand the different sides of the conflict. You become more tolerant and flexible because you listened and felt empathy and compassion.
Related reading: 4 Destructive Behaviors that Ruin a Relationship
It cultivates patience and perseverance.
Being in a conflict with another person will test your patience but as you become more mature, you learn to be calm during an argument. You develop the perseverance to pursue your goals and overcome the conflicts that hinder you from achieving them.
Arguing with an obstinate and uncompromising person may make you want to shout in anger, or vent your frustration through insults or worse, a physical attack. But your rational self prevails, and you wait for things to calm down before starting a dialogue. At the same time, you persevere in your efforts and do not allow the conflict to block you from pursuing your worthy goals.
It teaches you to be more selfless and generous.
Conflict is most often resolved by sincere listening. When all sides have been heard, collaboration to arrive at a joint resolution becomes easier. Sometimes, after having heard and understood the opposing side, a shift in position or point of view happens. Whether yours or the other person’s side is upheld is not as significant as the resolution of the conflict in a peaceful manner, without destroying the relationship. If you want the relationship to continue and prosper, whether it’s a business or personal tie, you learn to be selfless and generous, not of physical possessions but of your understanding and open-mindedness.
Conflict is unavoidable just as interaction between individuals in their daily lives is necessary and inevitable. But it shouldn’t produce bitterness or cause ruined relationships. Learning from conflict to make it a channel for emotional and moral growth is the right and admirable thing to do.