As a scuba diver I am witness to a host of differences among fish, yet they seem to live in relative peace. I see three-foot long barracuda with jagged teeth hanging not too far from scads of two-inch blue or brown chromis and slightly larger purple Creole wrasse. I see spotted drum of black and white stripes and polka dots living in proximity to parrotfish of rainbow colors.
There’s more I could share about the fishes of all differences of color, size, shape, gender configurations, etc., but the point is that fishes have all kinds of differences to which they don’t seem to pay any attention unless they are hungry. Then one fish is likely to eat another fish—but it’s a matter of life and death, of physical survival. Oh, I suppose I’ve seen skirmishes over territory, but these are minor and short-lived with no damage to either. They live in a world that is relatively conflict-free.
People, on the other hand, have exponentially fewer inherent differences of color, shape, size, etc., yet manage to use them to create conflict with extraordinary regularity. If there are no inherent differences we are more than capable of using differences of preference, opinion, and belief to create conflict—as if they were matters of life and death—when the only things that are at stake are our dear little egos.
As an organization development consultant, psychologist, former human resources director, and just plain human being I have spent over 30 years witnessing, working with, and informally but diligently studying conflictual situations of all kinds.
In addition, I have suffered the pain of the almost seven decades of conflicts and power struggles that have been created and dealt with in my own life. Accordingly, I’d like to think that I have gained some modicum of wisdom that might help others moderate, or at least modulate, the phthisic and enervating conflicts that are part of their lives at work and at home.
I plan to share such wisdom as it is through a blog series of which this is the beginning, through my twitter account @michaelfbroom, through a five part webinar series, and a book that just might result from all of this!
The plan is to offer a few paragraphs each week in this blog, which will also announce the webinars when they are ready. In other words, stay tuned!
Michael F. Broom, Ph.D.
October 3, 2011