Relationship conflict is a thing of beauty. It is saying, I care enough about this relationship to conflict with you, to try to find the right dance steps with you. It is saying, I care enough about you that I feel able to reveal myself as I am even when my behavior is imperfect. It is saying, we can be unified not by having to think alike but by the recognition that pairs are made up of two individuals.
Workplace conflict is a thing of beauty. It is saying, We celebrate disagreements because the collision of ideas is the stuff of creativity and discovery. It is saying, We care so much about making the right decision that we are willing to give voice to our doubts. It is saying, Your value here is not measured by how much you agree, but by how much you contribute to good thinking.
Conflict is a thing of beauty. It is saying, something here matters to me and is offering me the chance for discovery. It is saying, I recognize my imperfections and embrace them, as they are part of what makes me who I am. It is saying, I am here, I matter.
It is not conflict we should shun, feel unsettled by, or fear. Conflict is a thing of beauty because its roots are in the essence of who and how we are. Let’s figure out how to conflict well and honor this thing of beauty, this willingness to speak deeply of what matters.
And on occasions when we don’t conflict well, let’s allow each other some latitude, the grace of holding back harsh judgment, the recognition of the equal — and equally flawed — person in front of us.