Take a long, hard look in the mirror. No, not to judge yourself, or your co-workers, or the work environment you function in. But to ask yourself, why you should judge at all.
I’ve been pondering over the causes of work conflicts for a while now. Of course, there are many perspectives to it but one in particular has intrigued me.
It is, the incessant need for perfection in our daily lives. I’ll get to how I came about narrowing my words down to perfectionism. But before I do, let me take you through a few questions that I asked myself—
Am I always right?
Why do I want to be correct?
Do like-minded people make me feel comfortable?
Why do people with different perspectives trigger me? ( In fact, be it for better or worse, why does it bother me at all?)
Why does my perspective of another change based on his/her political or religious interests?
Why do I want to highlight my best skills or traits while I shy away from the attributes I’m less confident about?
Was it always this way? And lastly, why do these questions make me uncomfortable when I really get to thinking about them?
These are really self-reflective in nature, in no way am I trying to preach what’s right or wrong. All I’m trying to do is, identify my own triggers and the causes behind them.
Allow me to further elaborate on my perfectionism case here, let’s talk about this documentary called “The Social Dilemma” (no, it’s not a promotion).
In the documentary, they talk about how Artificial Intelligence predicts the content we watch basis our surfing patterns.
If I was pro-feminism for example, my newsfeed on any social media handle would be full of such content basis my preferences. If you were to consider feminists as femi-nazis, your newsfeed would be altered to your tastes and our contents would differ from each other.
It’s in fact unique for us all depending on the preferences we voluntarily (or involuntarily) seek.
Now, if my example holds true, and we were to sit and discuss our perspectives with each other, do you honestly think we’d see eye to eye? It would, in all likelihood, result in a heated debate. We would each think we know better basis the information we have. Why? ’cause we’re obviously correct. Our facts validate us so.
Lets take this feminism example out of the equation and go back to our workplace set-up. Does this conflict seem familiar?
I think it does. Say, if my working style tends more toward creativity and you are all game for analytics, our different bent of styles could be a possible fracture point for us resulting in a conflict.
This, takes me back to the questions I was asking myself. Am I truly right? If yes, why do I always need to be so?
I could be more tolerant of your opinion. We could probably learn from each other. If, however, we both choose to step down from our pedestals of the perfectionism rat race.
We would probably even judge each other less as we harbour constructive criticism. The boss need not always be right. Hey, this time maybe he or she would actually want to consider our take on things. Wouldn’t that feel better? Or is culture shift too difficult? I think not.
This, in no way is a one stop solution to resolve all arguments. The only aim is to view workplace conflicts from a different perspective, one that is more self reflective and in many ways, more challenging.
Before we jump to conclude who was right or wrong, maybe we can ask ourselves why the conflict took form in the first place.