Eric Edmeades is a leading beahvioural change expert and serial entrepreneur who, when he isn't investing in start-ups and clocking in one of his 10,000 hours on stage as a public speaker, is at home in the Dominican Republic.
As the mind behind multiple businesses, not to mention a family and an extensive team of co-workers, Edmeades has had to get comfortable with conflict. He spoke to RTÉ Lifestyle about his tips for managing conflict, while speaking at the 2022 Pendulum Summit in Dublin.
"Conflict is a very important part of any kind of development", he tells RTÉ Lifestyle. "The last thing you want is a team that always agrees about everything, that's just ridiculous. The truth is that it is through conflict we get to a better solution."
Rather than thinking of conflict as a make-or-break occurrence, Edmeades encourages people to reframe their idea of conflict. "The first step in conflict is to recognise that it is a struggle for an improvement. It's a struggle to make things better", he says.
"If you start from that perspective, if you realise, oh, I'm in conflict with you, what that means is that we both want it to be better. If you even just start with that, automatically, it's no longer seen so much as conflict. It's seen as a collaborative attempt to make things better."
This way, all parties are coming to the conversation with the same intention: to get to a better way of communicating.
Of course, this is easier said than done for some people, especially if this kind of conversation feels alien to them. Edmeades suggests starting small by avoiding passive aggression.
"Don't let things build up", he says. "That's where most conflict really gets out of hand, where I feel a little bit slighted and I don't say anything and I feel a little more slighted and I don't say anything and then one day I'm just f-ing and blinding about it. Now it's gone too far."
He argues that getting comfortable with this kind of communication is better in the long run, despite feeling possibly uncomfortable at first: "Being very direct with the communication and having those boundaries from the outset means maybe slightly more conflicts but much less conflict."