I have heard for years that managed conflict creates growth. I have witnessed this as a fact. I have been in or around many conflicts and in most cases, when the conflict is appropriately handled, all parties involved grow.
In our groups and weekend staff trainings, many times we use the phrase, “Growth Edge.” What is a “Growth Edge?” Simply defined, one may have hit a temporary plateau and the “Growth Edge” is an area where he needs to grow to improve. Here is an example: Say I am working on my anger. I have begun to be aware of what triggers my anger and have even improved on how often I may have angry outbursts. My next step in my growth or “Growth Edge” could be finding and implementing new strategies in handling my triggers.
We can become aware of our “Growth Edge” by paying attention to where we have “Plateaued,” via a suggestion in our leadership development, and/or being challenged by others in our growth. Recently, I became aware of the importance that conflict plays in creating “Growth Edge” awareness.
Recently, I made a decision about two teachers. I created a method for one to train the other. The man being trained had already stepped deeper into this area of his job. However, I felt a need for him to obtain further guidance. In my hope to better the teacher’s performance, I created a conflict. The trainee felt he was being demoted. The trainer took over more and trained less. While visiting with each individually, I realized that each had a “Growth Edge.” The trainee could benefit from some growth in the area of pride. The trainer could benefit from some growth in the area of control. The conflict exposed an area of growth for both of them.
Furthermore, since the conflict was due to my decision, I realized I had a “Growth Edge” in the area of better communicating how I thought the training should go. The conflict created was not a major issue. It did not have a lot emotional charge. This conflict essentially was the divergence of three different expectations. However, it was a conflict.
This example of a decision I made that created a conflict helped me to see deeper into conflict overall. It helped me to see a great example of how managed conflict can facilitate growth. Even more than facilitating growth, this scenario allowed me to identify another tool I can use to manage and possibly resolve conflict in the future. This tool is the identifying of the “Growth Edge” as it relates to conflict. As I was visiting with each teacher, I realized that each had contributed to this conflict based on an area of needed growth. I then asked each one, “What might be a ‘Growth Edge’ for you?” Then I asked, “What do you suppose the other man’s ‘Growth Edge’ might be?” Finally, I told each one that my “Growth Edge” would be better communication of my expectations when asking one teacher to train another. Once the “Growth Edges” were established, moving toward resolution became much easier.
Here are three takeaways from tagging the “Growth Edge” within a conflict based on the above scenario:
- At the root of many conflicts is a “Growth Edge” – The awareness that we all bring to the table a set of strengths and weaknesses is beneficial. Not only did all of us have a set of weaknesses to work on, we had a set of strengths. The trainer’s strength is passion (out of balance, this is control). The trainee’s strength is collaboration (out of balance, this is martyrdom). My strength is quick decision-making (out of balance this is haste).
- Identifying the “Growth Edge” shifts the focus – By asking each man’s and voicing my own “Growth Edge,” the focus was shifted inward instead of toward each other man’s contribution to the conflict. The focus inward fosters personal responsibility and allows each party to begin a process toward mutual agreements around a conflict.
- The new focus creates a common ground – Now that the parties involved are aware of “Growth Edges” and have taken responsibility for themselves, a common ground may be established. Each person should be free to express unmet expectations. A mutual agreement upon reaching goals, meeting expectations, and ground rules for moving forward will help the conflict move everyone toward a new objective. This may be the beginning of a stronger, clearer working relationship.
With these tools, I am more aware of opportunities to defuse the intensity of a conflict. When I am in the middle of conflict, I can better handle the situation by looking at how my “Growth Edge” contributed. Identifying and analyzing the “Growth Edge” allows the focus of the conflict to move to a proper perspective.
Think about a current conflict for you, or one you have recently experienced.
- What is your “Growth Edge?”
- What might be the other person’s “Growth Edge?”
- How might knowing that each persons’ “Growth Edge” contributes to conflict assist you in moving forward?
- How have you been challenged by this line of thinking?
By Byron Myers
Byron completed his initial Crucible weekend in 2009. His deepest desire is to help people believe in their God-given goodness and live lives of integrity, authenticity and feel loved and accepted.Byron is the author of the ebook, Weekly Devotional Thoughts: Weekly Applications of God’s Word. Byron is the High School Principal at Midland Christian School in Midland, Texas and a successful Business and Personal Life Coach. You can follow Byron at Weekly Devotional Thoughts.