Dealing with hostility, grudges and conflict in Business

May 11, 2018 | 3 Principles, Business Coaching

Unfortunately, it pretty common for (at least mild) situations of hostility and conflict to rise within business.  This may be between colleagues, or at times with customers, competitors and suppliers.  These types of situations can also arise within personal situations, between friends, families, partners, sports teams and so on.  It’s one of the areas that I get asked about by my clients a lot.  I actually get asked about it a lot by friends and family as well.  Here’s my take on it, with the understanding that I have.

Why does conflict occur?

To understand how best to deal with conflict, hostility and grudges, we first need to understand why they arise.  Believe it or not, the answer isn’t “because the other person is nasty/inconsiderate”.

It’s always been a belief of mine that no one is inherently ‘bad’ as a human being.  I’ve always had this feeling that people must feel justified in the behaviour that they do, when it doesn’t line up with what feels ‘right’ to me.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not claiming to be Mother Teresa, and suggesting that I have never considered anyone else in a negative way!  But, more often than not, I have had a feeling that “there must be a reason that they are doing this beyond what it looks like to me”.

conflict hostility business

However, we are brought up in a culture of finger pointing and blame.  Of being offended and of punishment for those who have done wrong.  It’s in our newspapers, magazines, TV programmes and conversations with friends and family.  The majority of us have been brought up to believe that someone else can do something wrong to us, and they are at fault and must know they are at fault, so they should apologies and you are justified to be unhappy about it.  As a result, when we feel affronted, we do very little to consider the other person’s position and most likely jump into defensive mode, ready to blame and shame.

However, let’s stop and think about this for a moment…

Have you ever had a situation when someone interpreted your actions or words in a way that they were not intended?  I know I have.

Have you ever been in a situation where you were considered to be the person in the wrong, but felt that your behaviour was justified?  I know I have.

Is it possible that your aggressor could feel the same way too?

Conflict comes from misunderstanding

In any conflict scenario there is always one underlying problem.  The belief of either/both parties that they are not okay and that the behaviour of the other has something to do with that.  This is a deeply held misunderstanding that exists amongst large proportions of the human race, that “okayness” comes from somewhere external.  From your security (physical, financial, emotional). From what others think of you.  From how much peace and quiet you have or don’t have. From what people are asking of you, or not.  From what people do for you, or don’t do. From how much time you have… The list is endless.  Anything that you can imagine that you believe someone else should or should not be doing can be followed by the statement “because I believe I’m not okay if you do/don’t do that”.  It’s our conditioned need to protect ourselves, to have what’s ours.  To hoard and stake claim.  And it’s this belief that creates the sufferingNot what the other party is doing/not doing.  The belief that we are not already enough, less than whole, imperfect as we are.

The other party is the same as you.  They also believe that they need to be doing what they are doing, or you need to be doing what they think you should be doing, or whatever, in order for them to be okay.  And it is this belief that creates their suffering.  So both you and they are looking at each other, believing that conditions need to be as they aren’t in order for you to be okay, and this resistance to what is, is what creates the suffering and conflict.

What if you knew that you are okay regardless of what anyone does/doesn’t do?

Well, if everyone knew this it would be the immediate end of all emotional suffering.  It would mean world peace.  It would be the end of martial strife, and corporate struggle.  Logistical things may still need resolving, but without the emotional sting of “I need this to be this way in order for me to be okay”, our actions would be towards the communal good.  Always.

This might sound like a bit of hippy nonsense.  You might be thinking “Yeah Vicky, but ­­­______ depends on this and xyz might happen if this doesn’t get resolved”.  I get what you’re saying.  I have those kinds of thoughts from time to time as well.  But then I remember that no matter how ‘perfect’ my life may appear to be, if I believe that my wellbeing comes from external circumstances then I am always going to feel insecure.  External circumstances are transitory.  They don’t last.  If you are pinning your wellbeing on something that isn’t going to last, then how can you truly be happy, at peace, content and loving?

If you know that your wellbeing is always with you, then you know that so too is happiness, peace, contentment and love.  And isn’t that all anyone really wants anyway?

Now if you can see what I am saying, you can also feel compassion for the other person in your conflict or hostile situation, or against whom you hold the grudge…. How does that feel differently now…?

Want to know more about how I can help? Drop me a line or give me a call. A successful coaching relationship depends upon a great rapport, so it’s important to talk. I want to get to know you, see inside your world and we can assess how we’d go from there!