Tuesday, January 28, 2014


  Some years ago I remember discovering a piece of art by Salvador Dalí that really captivated me in a way just a few paintings have gotten to do. The work was "Soft-Construction with Boiled Beans (Premonition of Civil War)" and it shows two parts of what appears to be an only monster wrestling with himself. Dalí wanted to reflect the self-destruction that occurs in a Civil War like the Spanish Civil War.

Self Construction with Boiled Beans - Salvador Dalí / Philadelphia Museum of Art 

  When we find conflict we, human beings, have developed hundreds of different cognitive-emotional strategies to cope with it the faster the better, even though it means not getting much from it. Although first reaction when spotting conflict let us identify this as a premonition to harmony collapse and we immediately tend to suppress it, studies show how important and neccessary is to deal with it in the right way.

Benefits of Conflict

Increases level of IMPLICATION
CHANNELS animosity
Promotes CONNECTION and sense of belonging
Increases ACTIVITY
Promotes CHANGE
Promotes new IDEAS
Reveals difficulties and ANXIETIES towards tasks
Reveals feeling and underlying EMOTIONS

  However, we need to control the environment of conflict and, as team leaders, try not beeing the source that provokes it.

  The conflict management guru Josep Redorta gives us the key to analize conflicts: "in a conflict situation you must always attack the emotional roots first, they have at the end made it explode." After this we need to clarify what the conflict is, there are multiple and very usefull ways of categorizing the conflicts (Prof. Redorta created the Conflict Analysis Typology, a standardization of 16 conflict elements that help us categorize the type of conflict in a really brilliant and highly comprehensive way). After the clarification comes the analysys of the excercises of power, he says "the power is always in the centre of the interaction". Lastly, analyze the values, norms, beliefs and the importance of them between the conflict and start an strategy to mediate effectively.

  For me the most fascinating part of his proposal is how to deal with different underlying emotions. However, you need to know although it might seem easy to identify different emotions, it is not, and it requires a certaing amount of time and training to master the technique of doing it.

  Anyhow, here I paste you a simple guide of how to react and cease the arousal of this different basic emotions that normally underlie on conflicts. Even though it needs more explanation (I strongly recommend Prof. Redorta's book), I think it might be a useful guide at least to think about it.

Emotion Compensators
Anger Calm / Divert
Fear Understand / Protect
Sadness Care / Cheer Up
Interest Help / Explore
Surprise Guide / Prevent
Excitement/Joy Understand / Share
Disappointment Explore / Guide
Envy Avoid / Explore
Guilt Reduce / Displace
Admiration Rationalize / Learn

  These are important ideas and thought I'd like to share:

- Don't panic if the conflict appears on your organization, look at the bright side, consider this an opportunity to reinforce your team.
- Before acting there are several things you need to think first, and there is a first one over the other ones: what is the emotion this appeared from.
- Think and ellaborate a strategy, elicit a compensator.
- The solution of a conflict is in cooperation and cooperation is an important value, an asset you will be able to use in the future. Use the conflict resolution as an example once you are sure it had a healthy healing.

  Hobbes stated in his Leviathan people live in constant war because man need to share sources of pleasure, which are defined as scarce. Most people is self-interested and causes of conflict are self-inflicted and because of this nature come all the conflict between man: homo homini lupus est.

  I am not saying this statement is distinctively wrong, it is not, but time has passed since the era of the Imperialism and our objectives are different and now the trend is not looking at the causes, but the forms of conflict which are widely more useful if our ultimate goal is to mediate and help solving them.

"So that in the first place, I put for a generall inclination of all mankind, a perpetuall and restlesse desire of Power after power, that ceaseth onely in Death." Leviathan Chapter XI

Written listening to "Country Joe And The Fish - Electric Music For Mind And Body" album (Rate:7/10)