Conflict, I am who I am

Is that a fair statement? Are we that static as people that we can presume to be the same person from one circumstance to the next?

If you apply the evidence of the 5 factor model of personality, then you likely consider there to be a set of stable personality traits. The baseline, if you will.

Personality is deeply complex, and is best studied in motion. When you are interacting with the world and responding to the behaviour of others.

In conflict, you can revert to saying about the other person, “well, they are who they are, I am who I am, nothing will change”. Maybe, a better framework is, “right now, we are playing in these roles, but what could a new story between us look like?.. what would we need to do to get there?”.

We are who we are in the context of others, in the context of our environments. It’s remiss to think that this won’t make a difference to our choices and behaviour. We bring our qualities in each other, it’s a reinforcing cycle. Often we don’t even give it considered thought – you do to me, I do to you – until there is a disconnection, then we need to be brave enough to reconnect.

Conflict does not need to end the relationship, it doesn’t need to bring out the fight in us. Even if that is who you’ve always been. You can choose who you want to be to each other, and you can choose to understand how your behaviour might be reinforcing a storyline which is no longer helpful.

About the author: I’m an organisational learning and development specialist, with a background in HR, operations and psychology. I focus on how we can connect people to ideas that help them be their best.

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