Wed | Mar 20, 2019

Trevor E. S. Smith | Conflict’s Hidden Sting

Published:Sunday | January 21, 2018 | 12:00 AMTrevor E. S. Smith

Have you had days when you feel like you got up on the wrong side of the bed? Do you take the time to investigate the root causes of those offbeat days?




There is a tendency for us to view conflict as being a friction between individuals or among a group. That perspective overlooks an essential aspect of conflict.




A broader and more meaningful appreciation of conflict is to recognise that conflict is present whenever there is an unmet need or desire. If you got up earlier than you wanted to today, a conflict exists.




The failure to understand and be more attentive to inner conflict is a major factor driving us to experience frustrated, miserable and angry moods.

Unmet needs and desires come in various forms and from multiple sources. They could come from external sources, such as contemplating the traffic congestion to be faced, or concern about crime in your community.

Conflict could also result from your disappointment that you have not followed through on a commitment. Your dress or shirt might feel a little tight this morning. These 'issues' abound. Conflict is inevitable and all-pervasive.




The challenge for many is the failure to recognise and own these conflicts. Many are latent or hidden, and so we bypass them. For example, it did not register that our concern about putting on weight was triggered by the sensation of the tight dress or shirt.




The problem is that these inner conflicts accumulate and impact our moods and our actions. The net result of failing to recognise them may be that by 3 p.m., we are fit to be tied and we may react to a simple trigger inappropriately.

The failure to understand the impact of inner - often hidden conflict - is to convert us into walking time bombs. An unmet desire may be the match that lights a fire.




1 Recognise the importance of hidden conflict - unmet needs or desires: No longer should you think of conflict solely in terms of friction among people. Appreciate that there is a build-up of things that have not gone the way you wanted, and that this has the capacity to influence your thoughts, words and deeds.

2 Own the feeling: My counsellor friend AndrÈ Allen-Casey champions this principle. When something seems off, recognise the feeling and accept that this is what you are going through. Don't ignore it or pretend that it is not happening.

3 Stop and investigate: Leave no stone unturned until you uncover the root causes of your bad mood. This can be challenging. This calls for you to be rational and mindful at a time when you are out of step. Being rational is far from your mind. Venting is a more like impulse.

However, our minds belong to us and we must take control of them. They are like horses. Untamed, they are difficult to manage and prone to do damage.




The good news is that we can tame our minds and place bridles on them. That is what mind renewal and transformation is about.

Bridling our minds to do what they ought to do, when they ought to do it, in the way it ought to be done, and for the right reasons, is our ultimate objective.

Take the time to patiently recognise, accept and address inner conflict - unmet needs or desires. The pay-off is a more mature, calm, peaceful and self-assured persona. The alternate is to experience unexplained mood swings and erratic actions that you regret after the fact. A mind that is tame gets you ahead of the game.




1. Book to attend the 2018 exclusive breakthrough bootcamp, 'Guided Path to Realising the Next Level of Your Journey' with best-selling author and Fortune 500 consultant Keri S. Smith (Feb 16).

2. Conduct a customised employee satisfaction survey or 360 performance appraisal assessments to identify conflicts in your organisation.

- Trevor E. S. Smith and the Success with People Academy team prepare and certify leadership coach/mentors and develop high-performing teams. Hire smart with their recruitment solutions. Now enrolling for the Q1 cohort of the ICF/SHRM-Accredited Certified Behavioural Coach programme.