Marie Kaufmann

Conflicts: our libraries are solving theirs, but how about me?

We just ran a program for executives. Executives of libraries in Sweden. Did you know that libraries are in a big change process? Did you ever consider the democratic role of our libraries for society? And what happens to the physical books as society gets more and more digitalised? I never thought about that. Until now.

In times of change, like for the libraries, the ‘people dimension’ always gets intensified, which often results in many small and big conflicts. Therefore the library executives had asked us to work with them on group dynamics and conflict resolution. Hot topics!

In theory we all know that conflicts can help us to grow. But in practice, honestly, who likes conflicts? I don’t. I wish to live in peace with others, I have a childish longing that I want everyone to like me and everything I do. And that we all live in harmony with each other.

But. At some point in my life honesty and clarity just became more important for me than to keep things pleasant. Today I dislike like the feeling that there is something between me and others, to the extent that I do open my mouth and speak out.  I have a need to clear the air when I feel things are being unspoken. As I am getting more experienced to address what I see and what I don’t like, I have increased my ability to solve or handle the conflicts that I am part of. I trust my emotional capacity to work through them, instead of getting lost in the emotions that are always part of a conflict. And I know that I have become more capable to distinguish what is my part and what is the other person’s part.

It is still not easy. Sometimes it takes everything I have to address a conflict. But the feeling afterwards is unbeatable. Real. Clean. Open. Intimate. Energetic. Peaceful. Loving. Vulnerable. Exciting. The days with the library executives made me look. I see that how I relate to conflicts today is that they are less of a problem and more of a chance for something new.  Not bad.