Conflict is a process of change, if you believe in the process view of conflict. Changes can’t happen unless internal conflicts lead to an external conflict that changes parties.

However, if you search Google, what parties really believe about conflict shines through:

  • How do I get out of my marriage?
  • How do I get away with it?
  • What is the best way to get a divorce?
  • How do I cheat?
  • How do I get away from my wife?
  • How do I get away from my husband?
  • What does divorce do to children?
  • How do I get my boss fired?
  • How do I avoid getting fired by my boss?
  • How do I get a different job?

Our Google searches reveal our inner truths. They reveal our inner desires to avoid, delay, surrender, or negate the uncomfortable process that lead to changes that inevitably must happen in our lives if they are to improve for the better. A better we can neither understand, nor see, in the present of our short-term fears.

Our Google searches reveal that, for many of us, the answer to the question “What is conflict?” is “A negative thing that makes me uncomfortable and that needs to be avoided—or made to go away—at all costs.”

Our Google searches reveal that our resistance to change is strong, our comfort with conflict is deep, and our view of the conflict, the process of getting through it, and the changes on the other side of it, are deeply negative.

Which is why, if you’re a conflict resolution practitioner, your work is cut out for you. But not in getting parties to resolution.

Your work—your deep emotional labor—lies in doing the digging to persuade and convince well-meaning parties in conflict (and those yet to be in conflict) to chip away at the cruft surrounding their preconceived notions, revealed through Google searches, of conflict as a negative.

As a conflict practitioner, this is your process of change.

What do your Google searches reveal about how you view conflict?

[H/T] Justin R. Corbett