I’m in a situation of conflict at work and I’ve been thinking about how I can handle it over these past few days with the support of my lovely friend, Nadine and my husband.
I don’t really do conflict – I’ll avoid it at any cost usually – but it felt like I needed to address it in this particular circumstance and I wanted to spend a few moments reflecting on what I’ve done so far and how I can deal with it in the best way possible going forward. And here are my thoughts:
When the situation first occurred, I felt confused, hurt and frustrated and so I took the evening before responding as I didn’t want to react out of anger. The next day, I tried to temper my response by asking myself how much of my feelings were to do with my ego being bruised – feeling personally snubbed and hurt by the situation and how much was to do with the situation. If I’m honest, it was a 50:50 split – feeling hurt but also the situation being a bit of a mess – but when I responded to the individual, I tried to keep my feelings out of it and just speak to the factual elements of the situation.
When I did respond, I tried to imagine the other person’s perspective with as much generosity as possible and responded to them saying ‘I imagine that you did X because you want to support me but don’t have the time to fully engage with my project. I wish you had spoken to me before you acted though because…‘. I think this was really helpful and I hope they saw that I was trying to be generous and not think the worst about them.
Sometimes the circumstances aren’t the best
I wanted to speak to the individual once I’d had a chance to calm down but wasn’t able to get in touch by phone for a variety of reasons. I really wish I could have responded face-to-face or by phone instead of through an e-mail…but deadlines and the situation itself meant that I had to respond by e-mail.
I need to come to peace with the fact that it wasn’t handled perfectly and realise that it’s enough that it was handled to the best of my ability.
What do I want?
When I spoke to my husband about the situation, he was really helpful in asking me what I want out of the situation and suggested that I act in a way to reach the best outcome I’m looking for instead of blindly trying to resolve things without considering what I want. I suppose what I want is for the situation to resolve itself in the best way possible for the project I’m running. And I also want to maintain a good relationship with the individual involved, because we work alongside each other in so many areas at work and we’ve both been working on building as good a personal and professional relationship with each other as possible. It would be such a shame to lose that. As it’s relational, I know that I need to sit down with the other person and address what happened so we can work together well in the future.
The bigger picture
I’ve been watching some videos this weekend of Brené Brown speaking about her new book ‘Braving the Wilderness‘ and they’ve been really helpful to order my thoughts about this situation. One of the things she said really touched me:
“True belonging is the spiritual practice of believing in and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world and find sacredness in both being a part of something and standing alone in the wilderness. True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are.”
I realise that my discomfort with the conflict is partially about the situation – I’ve not often resolved personal conflict by addressing it head on (instead sweeping it under the carpet) and so it’s a new learning curve for me, which is uncomfortable.
But part of the conflict has emerged because I want to share my most authentic self with the world and being accountable to others and holding others accountable to me is really important to who I am. I know that I’ve danced around other situations with this person in the past – not offering gentle challenge when I really wanted to do so in my heart, not sharing my true self with her and in addressing this situation, this is the first step on my journey to being my most authentic self with her.
And when I stand in the knowledge of who I am and how this is part of expressing my most authentic self, I no longer feel overwhelmed with nerves about how the other person will react. I know that I did the right thing and I know that it’s part of the journey I’m taking to express my most authentic self in all areas of my life.