It is a hard lesson for most of us to assimilate (especially when it gives some of us a stomach ache) but conflict is our friend.
Now of course moderation is good in all things but the (sometimes angry and irrational) working out of differences provides the opportunity to learn and develop even if, from time to time, the process is painful beyond words. And sometimes it really is. But we all have been in organizations or situations where conflict is disallowed or denied — maybe to protect the status quo or out of fear that a relationship will get irretrievably broken or because we are all just too excruciatingly polite for words. Most of us have worked in organizations where power trumps conflict — refusing to let new ideas or ways of doing things develop. Of course, when it is squelched, conflict just re-emerges in weird ways that are sometimes completely confounding or infuriating.
To welcome conflict though, we have to want to master it. That does NOT mean mastering the other individuals within the conflict, it means mastering the art of engaging with integrity and openness in conflict.
And to help you do just that, The Nonprofit Quarterly is proud to host Dr. Conflict to answer all of your questions about how to handle any conflict that may be occurring inside or around your nonprofit. Whether your board is locked in a virulent personality conflict or your members are staging a revolt, Dr. Conflict stands ready to help with folksy advice deeply informed by research. Send him your questions and he will reply post haste. If we decide to use your question and his answer in the magazine, we will make sure that your identity is protected and you will have approval rights.
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Meanwhile, here is the doctor’s last column . Enjoy!