The Magic of Conflict

“Conflict can destroy a team which hasn’t spent time learning to deal with it.”

-Thomas Isgar

One of my reread books is “The Magic of Conflict” by Thomas F. Crum, an expert in the martial art of Aikido. Crum has labeled his version of Aikido merely “Aiki”. I was intrigued the first time I read the title, “The Magic of Conflict”. How could conflict be magical? I thought it was impossible until I read the book. His book aims to help individuals understand that struggle can become a success while stress and conflict can become harmony.

To evaluate your concept of conflict, can you state in one word what you think when you hear the word conflict? Did any of these words come to mind?

  • Fight
  • Battle
  • Combat
  • War

By using Aikido principles, Crum demonstrates that conflict can be transformed from competition into:

  • Solutions
  • Opportunities
  • Understanding
  • Growth

Conflict with people you live with and work with is inevitable because each individual is a unique person with traits stamped on them at conception. This means that regardless of how well you get along, you are going to see some things differently. You will have conflicting ideas about how to proceed on almost any topic.

When you are in a conflict “discussion,” what if your mindset was:

“What an engaging transfer of ideas.”

If conflict is seen as exchanging ideas with the goal of transforming a product or finding a solution, negative emotions that could be surging through a person’s body may be changed into energy, the force that drives you and the team forward.

Conflict, when negative, causes stress inside of you and moves you through the General Adaptation Syndrome as named by stress researcher Hans Selye. The General Adaptation Syndrome is commonly called the Fight or Flight syndrome, and researchers have added two more conditions: Freeze, meaning you become immobile and unable to fight or flee; or Flop, meaning you faint.

The graphic below illustrates Hans Selye’s research on the three stages of stress, which in our context is conflict. You have a clash of ideas with another person, which is Stage One. In Stage Two, you adapt or build consensus; then, in Stage Three, you return to normal functioning.

Notice in the graphic above, zero stress equals death.

With this in mind, join us to learn the best practices for handling conflict and stress in our event, Keeping Cool in Conflict: Best Practices for Managing Workplace Confrontation”. We discuss interpersonal conflicts n the workplace and constructive ways to address them.  The tips and strategies we provide will help you better address conflicts that arise in both your professional and personal lives.

About the Expert

Karla Brandau is the CEO, Brandau Power Institute, and a 25-year veteran of the speaking and training industry. Her book, “How to Earn the Gift of Discretionary Effort,” positions her as a thought leader and expert in re-calibrating leadership for the 21st century. Her presentations help managers become the leader people CHOOSE to follow not HAVE to follow because of their place on the organization chart.

She has spoken for Coca-Cola Enterprises, Panasonic, BYD America, National Facilities Management and Technology Conference, US Poultry and Egg Association, the Mortgage Bankers Association, and the National Kitchen and Bath Association.  

Certifications include Certified Speaking Professional, Certified Facilitator, Registered Corporate Coach, Certified Professional Behaviors Analyst, Certified Professional Motivators Analyst, and EQi-2.0 Emotional Intelligence Facilitator.