For starters, I am by no means an expert in science. But as I learn and grow as a conflict professional, it has become more and more difficult for me to ignore the similarities between our natural world and conflict systems. So by the end of this post, I hope you pause to see just how closely these two systems are connected and how your own personal conflict system can be as simple as relating to a blade of grass.
SO WHAT HAPPENS WHEN NATURE, IN THIS CASE A BLADE OF GRASS, EXPERIENCES CONFLICT? WHAT THE HELL DOES A BLADE OF GRASS HAVE TO DO WITH YOUR SITUATION?
Grass is a simple structure and has a very simple way of life. In order to grow, it needs three things:
SUNLIGHT | WATER | NUTRIENTS
The root system is the backbone of grass and no amount of sunlight + water will suffice in the presence of poor soil, where the grass gets its nutrients. The roots are below ground and take up residence deep soil, collecting water and nutrients for the growth process.
In order for growth to occur, the soil must be 1) loose enough for roots to spread easily 2) absorbent enough to collect water, 3) rich enough to provide plants with nutrients, and 4) not too compact so that air circulates, stimulating growth. Sunlight + water aid in the health and growth of the grass, all working as a complete cycle. When the conditions of the soil are not ripe, nothing else matters. You can't keep adding water thinking that will cause it to grow faster.
You must look at the conditions of the soil itself, start from square one, at its center, before expecting transformation.
When all systems and conditions are operating as they should, adjustments in care can be made so the grass will thrive. The innate desire to grow, to be full of color and life, happens without much intervention. Grass will consistently be rid of weeds, disease, bugs, and anything else that is meant to interrupt the growth process and health of the soil. But it takes time, attention, and care for the center of the process (the soil) to produce those results.
WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH CONFLICT?
Think about it. What happens when we are faced with a situation in our relationship with our partners, spouses, coworkers, friends, teammates, etc. that doesn't produce an effective outcome? Ask yourself, "How is my blade of grass?"
What does your system of conflict look like?
Are you defensive in your reaction? Do you find yourself resisting change because of past experiences? Do you make decisions based on someone else's beliefs instead of your own desires?
In what conditions are you making decisions?
Does your soil (soul) need to be nurtured? What does your root system (beliefs, perceptions, ideas) say about you and could it use new nutrients (ways of thinking) to produce a different response within you?
Are the outcomes actually helpful instead of creating more harm?
Is your response to the conflict breeding more strife, discourse, confusion, lack of trust, etc? Are you feeling more distant instead of connected? Is the relationship or organization struggling to survive because the system and conditions are completely out of whack?
Simple enough, right? HA! If it really was that simple, we'd all be operating in a fabulous circle of trust, empathy, and understanding 24/7. However, we can learn how to create a state of being for ourselves that produces more positive + effective outcomes when we experience conflict in our lives. With time, attention, care, and a willingness to unlearn what doesn't serve us, it's possible.