The Culture of Conflict – Part 1


How much energy is lost squabbling or mired by tension? We may not be aware but conflict and evolving events can create their own culture. Disputes can become personal, dissent can be acted out in public and energy may be dissipated by situations spiralling out of control. Conflicts can be costly relationally and financially. They can cripple an entire board, executive team and even separate volunteers. While relationships have ups and down, living constantly in conflicted situations can be unhealthy, whereas being in healthy relationships can be productive. People who are secure in relationships can express their satisfaction or dissatisfaction knowing that they are in secure environments and things can be worked through.

Dealing with Tensions

Tension emerges in a range of ways.   There may be disagreements about strategy or about the board’s role in raising funds for the organisations or about who should be appointed to join the board.   Different factions can form with a range of people holding a variety of perspectives. Email trails and patterns of communication can be toxic and there may be great difficulty in moving forward as the situation becomes more deadlocked.

When tensions or difficulties show up, it is easy to do nothing in the hope that it will resolve itself. This is probably the worse thing to do as an eruption may occur at any point, particularly when you least expect it. The answer? Resolve things as early as possible. Learn how to deal with conflict and difficult situations with more ease and awareness. Skilfully tease out the issues. What may occur as personal may not be. There may be systematic or structural difficulties that cause frustration or anger.   Remember the iceberg? The presenting problem is usually not the underlying cause. The symptoms usually mask something much deeper.

In Part II of The Culture of Conflict we will explore practical steps and solutions that we can take when we are wading through trickle.

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