I’m a proponent of “deal with it now” conflict resolution. Why? Because we often assume that “time alone heals all wounds” when in fact it does not. In the realm of disagreements, conversation is the necessary component that many people would rather not engage.
Unresolved differences are additive in nature. We may not consciously recall them, but we carry them with us into every ensuing encounter. Your upset from the first incident gets stacked on every succeeding one. It will be impossible to have a clean conversation until you take the time to set things right from the original inciting event.
Respectful conversations about issues where we diverge are difficult to have. Conversations that are honest and devoid of posturing and blame, are also conversations that leave us vulnerable. We’re not sure where the conversation is going to go. We’re not sure how it’s going to end. Our minds often kick into overdrive assuming the worst outcome as a result of our automatic response designed to protect us.
Yet these conversations provide extraordinary opportunities for both personal and professional growth. They help us overcome fear. They connect us with those with whom we disagree and allow us to see things through their eyes. They open our minds to possibilities we may not have imagined. They ease tension and model what great communication skills look like to our team members.
One word of caution: if you or the person with whom you’re having a disagreement is visibly worked up, you’ve got a surplus of adrenaline pumping through your system. It only takes a couple of minutes for that to happen, but it takes 20 minutes for adrenaline to return to its normal level.
You will not have a productive conversation when you’re jacked up on adrenaline, so agree to have the conversation later in the day or the following morning, but please do follow through. Create a clearing now so the future will not be clouded by the past.