Conflict often arises because of doors that we open for ourselves.
Ever noticed that the vast majority of movie and TV plots would not exist if the main character simply ignored the knocking door? Or the ringing phone with the unknown number?
Honestly, where would Hollywood be if those doors remained closed? No possibility of altercation or personal harm. Nest eggs saved from marauding scammers. Unsavoury characters with malevolence on the mind kept at bay.
In short, there would be no plot.
We all see this unfolding before our very eyes. Still, we're sucked into the plot regardless. Why?
Well, that depends on the watcher. Curiosity. A deep-seated, Jekyll-Hyde attraction to conflict. Or, maybe, it's because we've decided to show up and have made the commitment to see it through.
Whatever the driver, in the end the door is opened. And the rest, as they say, is history.
What's your door?
Every leader has at least one of these doors. Doors that swing open onto conflict and, once opened, a dear price is paid. Usually, that price is peace of mind and well-being.
My door as a leader presented itself when dealing with the emotions of my team members. It's the role of a manager of course to help others manage their emotions. An asset of a strong leader is the ability to coach the individual to a deeper self-awareness when emotions are heightened.
But there's a fine line between supporting on one hand and becoming engulfed on the other.
It took me a long time to understand where my boundary was located. And that a boundary was indeed necessary. Getting caught up in the emotions of others not only made me less effective as a leader, but sucked the wind out of my sails.
Maturity as a leader brought me a clearer picture of my door. One that, once opened by me, invariably pulled me into a plot in which I didn't belong. And, oftentimes, one that created for me inner conflict as much as anything else.
We all create stories when emotion is involved. Emotion drives a story. As a leader, I realized that I had no place in that plot. I learned to keep the door closed.
The result? A level of clarity and objectivity that helped me to better help my people. Not to mention a significant lowering of my stress levels.
This was my door.
You'll have your own. Pinpoint exactly what it is for you. Ask yourself, what plots am I contributing to as a leader that are not serving me? What door, once opened, is bringing me down? That's sucks out my wind?
Emotion is usually the instigator. And emotion is also the indicator.
Think about what's triggering your negative emotion right now. Define it. What attitudes are you holding onto that are contributing to this situation? What behaviours stemming from these attitudes are opening doors to conflict - either internal or external - that should remain closed for you?
Whatever your doors, recognize them. Set your boundaries and live by them. Remember that you're in control. You, after all, decide to open the door.
No one else.
Glenn Case is a Leadership, Executive and Team Coach in Vancouver, Canada.