Conflict can make you rich. Really! A dispute is a treasure chest just waiting for you to dive in and gather its gems. Very simply put, the reason that you have a dispute with someone is that the other person sees and understands things differently than you do. There is so much to learn from that! What does the other person see? Why does the other person see things differently? Could it be that you both are missing something? Or could it be that you and the other person share different definitions of terms or ideas or understand the steps in a process differently?
What I suggest is called “adopting a curious stance”. When someone says something that throws you off guard try to remember to take a moment to be curious. Before making a decision about whether or not you agree with the other person, ask a few questions. You can decide to say, “I’ve never thought of it that way. Tell me more”. If you find that you don’t still don’t understand, ask the other person to clarify. You could say, “I’m not sure I understand what you mean. Do you mean to say . . .?”
Asking that question can also let the other person know what he or she sounds like. How many times have you said something to someone who then repeated what he or she heard you say to someone else – only he or she got it all wrong? The child’s game of telephone is a perfect example of how that happens. Repeating back what you’ve heard allows the other person to clarify if they find that the message they intended to give you was not the message you heard.
You might find that after hearing the other person out, you still don’t agree with his or her position on an issue. But understanding why they hold that position is a very important part of creating a situation where you can collaborate even when you don’t agree.
Knowing your own perspective makes you rich. Knowing your own perspective and a perspective that is different from your own makes you wealthy. What is the difference between rich and wealthy? David Letterman is rich. Oprah Winfrey is wealthy. Who would you rather be?