Optimize Your Life: Conflict Manager vs. Conflict Mis-manager – Erik Kondo


1. make the best or most effective use of (a situation, opportunity, or resource).
“to optimize viewing conditions, the microscope should be correctly adjusted”


Your life is a limited resource and you want to use it as effectively as possible. You may choose to use your life in a wide variety of ways. There is no defined set of standards or accomplishments for an “optimized” life. But, there is a commonality among many people whose lives are NOT optimized. They don’t do things as effectively as possible due to their inability to manage conflict. They are Conflict Mis-managers.

In these cases, much of their mental energy is drained by conflict induced stress and anxiety. Instead of being able to focus fully on the task at hand, they are immersed in worry about possible future conflicts. Or they are consumed by ruminating and rehashing the results of past conflicts. Their inability to handle conflicts well detracts from their productiveness. Their induced stress from real and imagined conflicts also negatively impacts their health and overall well-being. For example, according to a study, one in five adults are currently medicated with psychological or behavioral drugs. Many of these drugs are designed to reduce stress and anxiety. In the past year, four students at MIT have committed suicide. Each day, newspapers are filled with stories about sexual assault, bullying, youth violence, domestic violence, road rage, murder, mayhem and more. The inability to deal with stress and effectively handle conflict is a major problem in modern society.

Where and how do people learn how to effectively deal with conflicts? As a practical matter they don’t. Young people grow up absorbing both well-meaning poor advice or deliberately misleading propaganda from a host of sources such as the Media, Social Activists, Politicians, the Police, the Self-defense Industry, their parents, their teachers, their friends, and more. Rarely, does this information increase their ability to manage conflict. More than likely, it detracts from it. The end result is a culture of conflict mis-management. A culture where it is acceptable to not be able to deal with real-life conflicts as long as someone else is to blame for what happened.

If you truly want to optimize your life with conflict management skills, you first need to accept that “not being at fault” is mostly a legal term that only makes you “the victim”. Being a victim is more associated with Conflict Mis-management and less associated with Conflict Management. Effective Conflict Managers can still be victimized, but they did their best to prevent it. Being victimized does not mean you are a Conflict Mis-manager. But Conflict Mis-managers frequently do not prevent many incidents of victimization due to their low ability or willingness to deal effectively with interpersonal conflict.

In fact, a sure sign of a Conflict Mis-manager is someone who is focused mostly on blame. A Conflict Manager on the other hand, is focused on resolving the situation, not who is to blame for the situation. A Conflict Manager recognizes that life is unfair and moves forward regardless. A Conflict Mis-manager uses the claim of unfairness as an explanation for his or her poor performance.

By learning, practicing and incorporating the skills of effective conflict management into your life, you will be able to devote more time to being productive. You will have empowered yourself. You will be able to go to more interesting places, and you will be able to do more while you are there. You will have less fear and anxiety. Importantly, you will have taken a strong step towards optimizing your life.

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