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

Can Conflict Be Magical on a Team?

One of my re-read 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.

The first time I read the title, The Magic of Conflict, I was intrigued. How could conflict be magical? I thought it was impossible until I read the book.

The goal of his book is to help individuals understand that struggle can become 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 your mind?

  • Fight
  • Battle
  • Combat
  • War

By using Aiki 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 interesting 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 crash of ideas with another person which is Stage One. In Stage Two, you adapt or build consensus, and then in Stage Three, you return to normal functioning called homeostasis. 

In addition to changing your concept of conflict, strategies to make conflict magic include: 

  • Understanding the five styles of conflict 
  • Knowing when to compromise
  • Working for win/win solutions
  • Observing and flexing to teammates’ personality styles

The best solution to conflict is to address it as it happens. If that is impossible, make an appointment with the other individual to revisit a difficult conversation that ended poorly. 

Resources For Your Team

  1. Contact Brandau Power Institute for a Magical Conflict webinar or a Seven Secrets onsite training.
  2. Schedule a Stress Assessment for your entire team. Learn how. 

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