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Dealing with conflicts on the governing board

31 Dec

It irks me when I hear someone say that there is considerable merit when people row with one another.  My prickles rise further when they add that conflicts are good for the soul.  They aren’t.  They frequently create win-lose situations.  At its worst, the outcome of a conflict involving two or more ends up with blood on the carpet. I have observed on several occasions how destructive conflicts have been during and in between meetings of the governing board.   Conflicts occur for a host of reason.

The first reason is a primeval one.  Our prehistoric ancestors responded with a fight-or-flight mindset, when confronted by danger.   If they fought, it was to win and for the enemy to lose.  If they lost, they either took flight or suffered fatalities.   It was a case of survival of the fittest.

Second, no one likes to lose and certainly not in front of spectators.  In the animal kingdom, the loser slinks away.  In human exchanges, often, there is nowhere to go but “to slink away”.   The loser feels trapped; the blood drains from the face and the conflicting encounter is followed by sleepless nights.

Conflicts are part of the human condition.  So, expect clashes at meetings of the governing board on contentious issues.   But they can be used to good effect.   Just as a kite soars high when it is confronts a gutsy wind, so also can great decisions be made by the governing board when members disagree with one another.

Conflicts can have positive outcomes, provided that there are certain ground rules.   However, if not managed carefully, they can cause ruination and chaos.

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