As we all face the uncertainties associated with the coronavirus, it made me realize just how much this virus and conflict has in common in at least two ways:
1) Both Perpetuate Fear
With the coronavirus, our country and the entire world are facing lots of fears. Fear of becoming infected, fear of how our daily lives are changing, and fears of the unknown, including when this pandemic will end?
When we face conflict, there are often fears, such as how the other person will respond if we speak up about a problem? Will the person get angry and retaliate? Fears of rejection if boundaries are set. How will the relationship change?
2) Both Can Be Without Symptoms
With the coronavirus, people have reported feeling fine yet still are a carrier. Within a few days from exposure, without warning they start to experience symptoms.
In the same way with conflict, you can be working collaboratively with employees or on a team thinking everyone is getting along. Then suddenly, seemingly out of the blue, someone is angry about an issue that’s been lurking under the surface that’s never been addressed. You had no idea they were upset about it.
One Key Difference
There is one key difference between the coronavirus and conflict. With conflict, there is an antidote, a remedy, a solution.
As of today, in the middle of March 2020, although treatments and vaccines are currently under study, there isn’t a remedy, medication, or vaccine to counteract the coronavirus.
With the worldwide severity of the virus and medical attention, I hope and pray there will be a vaccine in the near future. Certainly, efforts are being made towards that end. In the meantime, treatment is rest, hydration, isolation, and in severe cases respiratory care.
With conflict, there is a “remedy”, a solution to handle conflict productively. It starts with staying calm and conscious of our words, actions, and choices. It’s being mindful of taking responsibility for what we can control and being respectful in how we show up, especially during times of adversity.
As we all face the fears and unknowns of the coronavirus, may we all stay calm and conscious of our words, actions, and choices.
Workplace Conflict Expert Bonnie Artman Fox, MS, LMFT, works with executive leaders and team managers who want to stop divisive behaviors, resolve conflict, and build the team trust needed to create a healthy work culture. Contact Bonnie to help your employees get along and bring teams together.