When was the last time you disagreed and argued with someone over something? Do you remember the unpleasant feeling and how draining it was? It is because, being social creatures, by nature, we loathe conflicts.
Often, conflict starts with frustration. Frustration can happen when we least expect it, and it arises when things are not going according to the way we think they should or when others are not in line with us. Unchecked, the situation will eventually evolve into a “they vs us” followed by a defensive instinct to “combat” for our “rights.” These mind traps of “in-group” and “out-group” narratives lead us to arguments and conflicts and are aplenty for inter-cultural exchanges.
Any disagreement means there are different opinions. There are two options to take when we find ourselves in such a situation.
- we can view the differences as a waste of our time, and they undermine our intellect.
- we can take the differences as an opportunity to add new perspectives to our knowledge bank.
The first option often leaves either party feeling disgruntled, ties cut and relationship severed. Whilst the second approach may lead to a novel, creative and better way to do things from the combined insights of people different from us. Like most, I have had those unpleasant moments, often with regrets because no one gained from them. Along the way, I’ve found these steps helpful to turn frustrating encounters into meaningful outcomes.
In the process, Step #1 detaches us from our emotions and ego; then, it asks us to approach the situation positively, exercising fairness to others. Step #3 then gets us into a clinical assessment of what we want out of that situation and the relationship with the person. That being clear will lead us into a thoughtful process to appropriate our actions for the desired outcome. Voila, the recipe for good DEI at work.
Try it out the next time you start feeling frustrated with another person; April is the magical Cherry blossoms season. It is a time of renewal, and it also reminds us of life’s fleeting nature. Therefore, it may also be a good time for us to rethink how to design a life with fewer conflicts but be more beneficial to our relationships with others.