Reflection Friday: Getting to the Outside of Conflict

June 25, 2021   |   Julie Diamond

On this Reflection Friday, we’re focusing on reflecting specifically when faced with conflict.

This can be a challenging time to pause and reflect, when tensions are running high and your guard is up – but that’s usually all the more reason to encourage a moment of rumination.

This post from Daily Stoic – one of our favorites for meditative thoughts – about getting to the outside really spoke to us. 

In our Leaderlab trainings we like to use the “Three Sides of Conflict” method when dealing with tension in the workplace. In any conflict, there are only three possible places to be: your side, the other person’s side, or the outside. But we rarely think about the outside perspective. 

Getting to the outside is not about being neutral or not taking sides. But it is about the much bigger picture. What are you missing? What don’t you see?

Because when you really think about it, “two sides to every issue” is not enough sides. We’ve been conditioned to think this way, but that’s rarely how life actually is. 

In reality, there are 360 degrees, or sides, to everything – and we’ve been limiting ourselves by thinking there’s just two sides to consider.

Imagine this: if you stand on top of a mountain, each degree you turn affords a different view. You’ll see something beautiful, interesting and brand new with each rotation.  

The same is true in a conflict. It’s easy to account for your side and your opponent’s side, but the outside perspective will show you all the other perspectives you hadn’t even considered. And taking the time to consider the outside is a great reflective process – a momentary experience of detaching yourself, taking your view to 30,000 feet so you can more easily observe the relationship system and see the bigger picture.

So, we invite you to think of a conflict you’re currently dealing with. Take a deep breath and imagine you are way up high, outside the conflict, standing on a mountain top looking down and all around. Look at yourself and the other person in the conflict as if you were someone else. 

Ask yourself: 

  • Does your position make sense? 
  • Can you see logic in the other person’s position? 
  • What can you see/acknowledge from the outside that you didn’t notice before? 
  • How do you feel being on the outside? Can you think more clearly? 
  • From that vantage point, what recommendations would you make to yourself? 

We hope this “new perspective” on perspectives is helpful for you in dealing with conflict. 

As always, we love hearing from you. Feel free to email us at [email protected], or chat with us on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter.