Decoding the Bedrock of Conflict, Part I: Fears

A training manager for an international business shared with me a story about an online training platform that has been implemented this past year for his company. There was incredible reception of the platform in the United States, with very little hiccup or training stressors during the transition to the program.

However, due to corporate structure in some European companies, there was almost immediate pushback from various international sales branches. Of course, all of the feedback was coming from online meetings (Zoom in particular).

The hesitancy to implement the new platform created awkward tension in board meetings and in the day-to-day discussions between sales representatives for the company.

The training manager continued sharing that he was initially frustrated because the platform overall is such a solid system! However, from his own point of frustration and confusion, he realized quickly that the issue was going to come down to a need for direct communication. 

He knew he had to somehow get to the point of asking, “What are the underlying concerns here?”

Upon one-to-one conversations with various international sales reps and trainers, he discovered their unique perspectives. Ultimately, they were concerned that should the training platform prove faulty, they would lose face with their European clients!

Their fears were stopping them from looking at the new platform with unbiased eyes.

Before long, the training manager was able to address their specific fears. Had he not taken the time to gain insight into their perspectives, there would have been potential for underlying tension that could block positive outcomes when rolling out the new platform.

What Was That All About?

As a conflict enthusiast, I love hearing these kinds of stories, and especially these kind of outcomes!

Why do I love them so much?
Because they show me great examples of the bedrock to human engagement!

Have you ever been baffled by the reactions of others or their apparent unwillingness to see things how you see them?
Sometimes their reactions can even seem idiotic or intentionally opposite yours!

How can people be so similar but have such different reactions to certain things?

The answer is: perspective.

Perspective is simply: a point of view.

Everyone has one! We are all looking at the world with a different history and background, different upbringing, different stimulations, and behold: a unique point of view!


Why We See What We See

What drives perspective besides natural environments such as upbringing?
 One of the major forces is fear!

Now, don’t be alarmed - it is entirely common to be susceptible to different kinds of fears!

The point here is to raise awareness of the importance of understanding this “sameness” we humans share.

As mediators and problem solvers of our personal and business worlds, we have to take an account of the basic driving forces behind those around us and under our care.


Diving Deeper

One of the simplest ways to begin understanding the “fear” aspect of perspective is to reflect on this example within the context of two basic personality types:

According to the popular Myers-Briggs study, there are two basic recharging styles (or psychological preferences) humans experience: extraversion and introversion.

💡 Introverts: Get energy from dealing with the ideas, pictures, memories, and reactions that are inside the inner world. An introverts’ major fear tends to be: being controlled by scenarios or individuals.

💡 Extraverts: Get energy from active involvement in events and having a lot of different activities. An extraverts’ major fear tends to be: being out of control or experiencing a lack of inclusion

These fears can translate majorly into the workplace!

Understanding the basic perspective (remember, this is simply a view point or unique way of looking at things) of a coworker or employer/employee is a big step in the right direction of seeing resolution accomplished, much like the manager in the earlier story saw!


What's next?

There are simple tools that help you uncover the behind-the-scenes of triggers, and assist you in redirecting conversations, motivations, and problems into successful and relationship building experiences!

Part II of this article series comes up next week, and I'm talking about the other 2 major underlying elements of conflict: biases and distortions.

Let me tell you, these are fascinating subjects! Tune in to last month's Special DCM Podcast Episode if you want to get a heads-up on what biases & distortions are all about.

Remember: You don’t have to be trained professionally to gain better understanding of mediation - you simply need patience and intentionality to better understand those around you, one step at a time!

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