Reverence, Conflict, and Contention – Understanding Improves Capability

Several commenters have erroneously confused conflict and contention and harangued me for promoting conflict.  With this article, I intend to dispel the confusion and encourage understanding.  These three principles, reverence, conflict, and contention, are paradoxically connected, and a greater understanding is needed.

Reverence

Some of you think that reverence only belongs in church settings, and frankly, your lack of insight into this word is why we are discussing reverence.  Please, turn off the voices in your head for a minute.  M. Russell Ballard provided etymological understanding for the term reverences pertinent to this discussion.

Reverence may be defined as profound respect mingled with love and awe. … The root word revere also implies an element of fear.  Thus, reverence might be understood to mean an attitude of profound respect and love with a desire to honor and show gratitude with fear of breaking faith of offending.” – God’s Love for His Children

Webster also provides additional insight into reverence.  Reverence contains definitions, including an action to show respect; a feeling of mingled awe, respect, and admiration; veneration; esteem heightened by awe (wonder), as of a superior; especially, such a feeling toward deity.  Finally, we find more insight; reverence includes treating with profound awe (wonder) and respect, or veneration.

Many Christian religions sing a hymn that encapsulates reverence, “How Great Thou Art.”  The first stanza is my favorite:

O Lord my God!
When I in awesome wonder
consider all the works
Thy hands have made,
I see the stars,
I hear the rolling thunder,
the power throughout
the universe displayed.”

Take anything you see out your window right now.  Flowers, trees, grass, snowfall, frost, cars, asphalt, window glass, etc., and consider the hands, science, and creation of that item with wonder.  With awe, consider the birds, bugs, animals, humans in all their variety.  Want to know a secret?  You just showed reverence.  More importantly, you made a choice to open your mind to see past the mundane and explore the higher plains of existence with your human eyes.  What are the consequences of awe and wonder, joy!  Reverence brings joy!  Want to know another secret; one of the most challenging problems all societies face is choosing to show reverence and look with wonder and awe upon the world around us.

I can build a house; well used to be able to build a house, now all I can do is teach my skills to someone else.  But, guess what, I am the first to declare I am no expert, and their remains much I can and want to learn.  Want to know another secret; learning shows reverence and brings joy.  I marvel in awe at craftsmen displaying their skills, be it building a house, fixing engines, creating delectable goodies, or simply watching small children explore the world, I choose to view in wonder the majesty around me, and this brings joy!

What is Joy?  Why pursue Joy?

Joy is defined loosely by Webster as “Intense and especially ecstatic or exultant happiness.”  But does not fully encapsulate what joy is; joy is mental peace, mingled with an uplifting spiritual feeling, leading to physical contentment and feelings of well-being.  Joy is a pursuit, not the object, not the destination, and is a drug you can become addicted to quickly.  However, pursuing joy for pleasure is a pathway to problems, for joy does not contain truth, only the recognition of accomplishment.  Joy is a by-product of choices leading to success in achievement.

The pursuit of joy includes failure, feelings of hopelessness, and even despair, physical and mental pain, and anguish.  Yet, joy is still sought and pursued, why; because at the end of the day, joy occurs when goals are accomplished, and in evaluating the goal, we find the struggle worthwhile!  When we, as individuals, choose to stop pursuing joy or achieving a goal, we die inside, leading to physical and mental disease.  This is why retirement is such a bad idea, why giving up is so physically, mentally, and spiritually destructive, the loss of joy can physically, mentally, and spiritually kill a person.

The lack of joy precedes a loss of hope, bringing with it soul-crushing despair, depression, and opening the door for that individual’s destruction.  Why pursue joy; to avoid the death inherent in hopelessness.

Contention

Let me be perfectly frank, contention and conflict are not the same.  While the terms are close, they are distinct and tell different sides of the same story.  First, contention is an act of striving or an assertion.  Contention is a violent effort to obtain or protect something vehemently!  There is effort, struggle, exertion in contention; there are violent efforts, and the core of contention is pride.  Pride breeds animosity, animosity breeds struggle, and struggle is contention, where pride is demanding that violence is acceptable as a means to achieve the desired end goal.  When contending, “The ends justify the means.”

Contention is animosity personified into action, effort, and desires become evident as contention unfolds.  We cannot forget these facts about contention.  Consider the following; I went to work in a hostile atmosphere; due to a contract signed, I could not quit and find a new job, and reassignment was not going to happen.  Jealousy and pride entered because I was very good at my job, and violence followed like the sun rising after a moonless night.  The result was that contention was born and festered, violence was perpetrated against me, and the violence was acceptable to the leaders as it gave them feelings of accomplishment and satisfaction.

The violence was justified because I was “too good” at my job, made “decisions above my paygrade,” and “I needed to be taught humility.”  The result was four disastrous years of struggle, incredible stress levels, and mental torture, with physical acts of violence thrown in to spice up the environment.  Contention is pride expressed through violence and justified to fit the individual’s desires.

Conflict

I have written a lot about conflict, conflict’s benefits, how conflict is a tool, and the dark side of conflict.  At its most fundamental level, conflict is all about helping spur growth, development and bring about change.  However, I cannot stress this enough; conflict is NOT contention.  Conflict is not born of pride and a desire to feel better about yourself through violence.  Conflict can be observed in a disagreement or difference in opinion, but conflict does not include emotional hyperbole (pride).  Conflict should be about mental disturbances spurred by people seeking greater ideas and ideals, personal growth, or team development.  Does conflict lead to contention?  Yes, because pride enters into the disagreement, emotions are injected, and desires to be right at any cost dictate it is time for violence.

My wife and I have a conflict.  She does not like being mentioned, even obliquely, in these articles as she feels it is disrespectful.  I disagree because she has achieved much, and when she is mentioned, even obliquely, it is not to denigrate or deride, but as an example of what can be achieved and what I want to become.  She has gained a lot in self-mastery, and I long to learn how to achieve similarly; thus, it is not disrespect, but profound awe and wonder, mixed with desire, that I mention her.

Our marriage has been a long string of conflicts leading to personal growth, primarily for me.  I have learned that when I feel my emotions begin to boil, it is not her that is wrong in the conflict, but me.  Those emotions are pride screaming, “Oh, please let me be right!”  When the reality is, if I took some time to cool down, mentally focus, and look at my perceptions, I could see where and how I was wrong.  My parents possess a contentious relationship, and many times I have longed to see them divorce and go their separate ways.  I have observed them get into physical fights, watched them argue over BS while something else was the real problem, and I have witnessed several seasons of intense warfare between them.  Hence, I possess a motivating influence to be different, even if I have to unlearn and relearn.

Thus showcasing the significant difference between contention and conflict, growth never occurs in contention, EVER!  Contention only breeds more violence, not personal growth, not individual development, not team cohesion and goal attainment.  When the dust settles from contention, there are generally physical, mental, spiritual wounds and scorched earth between the opposing foes. In contrast, conflict breeds individual growth, personal strength, and goal success.

Leaders, followers, encourage conflict, teach how conflict can lead to contention, monitor conflict closely, and do not try to solve the conflict.  Settle contention, but do not deprive people of conflict.  Use wonder and awe as tools to breed an inquisitive nature and explore with a mind full of reverence.  Therein lay the path to joy; pursue the path!

© Copyright 2021 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

Contentious Voices – Exerting Control

QuestionA colleague of mine mentioned something in passing that has me thinking about the contentious voices surrounding our lives.  Consider with me for a moment; when the last time you heard just the news was?  No commentary, no hidden bias, no reporting for emotional reaction, simply a description of the events of the day, news?  I cannot remember when I last heard a news report.  It seems that to get the local news, I have to question the motives on the stories, compare news broadcasts for opinions and biases, tune into three or four different radio stations and compare them to the TV, and those to the newspapers, and even then, 90% of what is reported still has to be discounted.

My colleague mentioned that the efforts of contentious voices are to exert emotional control over the audience, for if the audience is emotionally controlled, they are physically controlled.  If they are physically controlled, they can be bent, shaped, and molded into weapons of self-destruction for the entertainment of those controlling the contentious voices.  This insight has me thinking—self-destruction through contentious voices exerting control, all through unbridled emotional understanding.

Exclamation MarkWhen emotional intelligence was first coming out, feel free to read the early papers and books on this topic if you doubt what I am reporting.  Emotional intelligence was declared as the ability to read the emotions in a room and then control the people through their emotions.  For which I have adamantly opposed emotional intelligence as a concept since inception.  I have always felt that trying to control others through their emotions is wrong, in poor taste, and can easily backfire when those being controlled wake up and realize what has been happening to them.  Yet, emotional intelligence has grown as a concept, has broadened in scope, and no one is asking why anymore.  Well, I am, and so are a few others, but the media is working hard to keep us silenced and sidelined as “aluminum hat-wearing non-conformists.”

Yet, contentious voices continue to prey upon people’s emotions nightly and call this “learned commentary,” “democracy dying in darkness,” “in-depth reporting,” and “fair and balanced news,” among many other things.  Republicans against Democrats, Liberals against conservatives, eco-Nazis from both extremes of the planet is going to hell debate, and the list of contentious voices is long and formidable.  Yet, they all have the same playbook, use emotional hooks, sink the emotional hook deeply, and keep pulling that emotional hook every time a person tries to think for themselves.

Dont Tread On MeWell, I would see you escape the hook, wake up mentally, and arise as a powerful individual.  Capable of independent thought and able to reason and think using your own instinct, talents, skills, and innate reasoning.  I am not making a plea to your emotions, and if you ever think I am playing to your emotions, feel free to call me out!  I am not here to enslave your mind, but to free your soul and empower your spirit, to support your goodness, and justify you being the free-thinking person you already are!

Thus, the following reminders regarding emotions.  These are not my thoughts; they originate from Robert Solomon’s incredible book “Not Passion’s Slave: Emotions and Choice,” which you can purchase from any reputable bookseller for a minimal fee or find in a local library.  If you are close to New Mexico, send me an email to lend you my copy.Not Passion's Slave - Emotions and Choice

  • Solomon begins his book with a quote from Jean-Paul Sartre:
    • For the idea which I have never ceased to develop is that in the end, one is always responsible for what is made of one. Even if one can do nothing else besides assume this responsibility.  For I believe that a man can always make something out of what is made of him.  This is the limit I would today accord to freedom: the small movement which makes of a totally conditioned social being someone who does not render back completely what his conditions has given him.”
  • Emotions involve social narratives as well as physical responses, and an analysis of emotions is an account of our way of being-in-the-world.”
    • Emotions are not occurrences and do not happen to us.
      • Emotions are rational and purposive rather than irrational and disruptive, are very much like actions, and that we choose an emotion much as we choose a course of action.”
    • Emotions are intentional: that is, emotions are “about” something.
      • All emotions are ultimately “about” the world and never simply “about” something particular.
      • Feelings do not have “directions.” The relationship between my being angry and what I am angry about is not contingent between a feeling and an object.
    • Emotions change with our opinions, and so are “rational” in a very important sense.
      • But the rationality of the emotion is time-sensitive, socially sensitive, and environmentally contingent. Unless our societal makeup allows this emotional crossover, emotions cannot often cross between social situations, peer groups, and environments.
      • The cause of an emotion is a function in a certain kind of explanation.
        • Contentious voices know this as a truth and use their contention to drive the emotional functionality of the arguments to spur emotional growth to your detriment!
      • The line between emotions and beliefs is often negligible and non-existent.
        • Another truth contentious voices use to spur emotional hooking in the audience to the audience’s detriment and destruction.
      • Emotions are a normative judgment.
        • We decide the correctness of emoting, based upon the social, environmental, and peer aspects at the time the information is provided.
        • Emotions are cognitive judgments of socially wired animals (humans) who use the lightning reflexes of the brain to make these judgments for personal benefits in a social situation, advancing peer associations, or to survive in a specific environment.
        • Emotions change with our knowledge of the causes of those emotions.

Bobblehead DollOn this last point, consider Joe Biden and his words to different audiences on the campaign trail.  To one audience, he pledged to put oil company officers in jail for unspecified environmental crimes.  To another audience, he promised not to kill coal.  Both declarations were later denounced as verbal gaffes, miss spoken words taken out of a larger context, and phrases that did not mean anything on the campaign trail.  Yet, the words fit the emotion being witnessed, and the crowd forming the environment and peer group being addressed.  All politicians do this, and it is referred to as “politicking” or “playing to the audience’s emotions.”

Finally, consider something with me, a thought, those controlling the contentious voices believe you, the audience, their slaves, for they can control your emotions, like 2-year-olds control play-dough.  Are you a slave?  Will you master your emotional judgments to protect yourself and your family?  The choice is yours, and yours alone to make.  All I can do is offer information and ask for your consideration.  But I will make a promise; if you refuse to master your emotions, you will be destroyed by the contentious voices clamoring for your attention.  These breeders of contention will pull you apart emotionally, creating depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, and other self-destruction options.

Image - Eagle & FlagThose terrorists rioting over the spring and summer of 2020 were pawns and self-destructive actors to the contentious voices.  We are all living in a time where social influencers play the most extensive role in the lives of people than ever before, and they can play this role because we have unbridled our emotions and refuse to believe that emotions are a choice, a judgment, and a tool for social integration.  While the masses are not taught these things, those controlling the contentious voices know these truths, but they also practice hiding this information to destroy the groups they enslave.  Please, free yourself from bondage, take control of your emotions, and never allow anyone to control them ever again!

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

Organizational Contention – Or, Fostering the Case to Shift the Employment Paradigm

Medical doctors call any condition that progress slowly into advanced stages before manifesting itself openly a “silent killer.”  Organizational Contention (OC) is one of the deadly ‘silent killer’s’ rampant in business today.  Organizational contention can be as simple as when employees disagree with each other, or as complicated as when whole departments antagonize, hate, and actively work against each other.

Below are some examples of OC the author has knowledge of:

  1. A senior operations employee instigates a fight with a junior supply chain employee.  The senior employee picks up a metal rod and strikes the junior employee.  The resulting company investigation shows the junior employee at fault.  The junior employee leaves the company.  The contentious response of the senior employee will result in a repeat of this incident again.
  2. A manufacturing company whose labor union is so anathema to change that adding equipment to improve the manufacturing process almost initiates a strike.  A production supervisor added a fully anchored roll table to the output side of a machine.  The table sped up production 25% per part.  The owner averts the labor union’s strike.  The supervisor forced to apologize, the table removed, and the labor union fakes pacification until the next attempt to initiate change.  This animosity cycle to change repeats itself repetitively.
  3. A call center and business unit in one geographic area is despised by the other call centers and business units.  Actions initiated to show the value of the call center at fault is to no avail.  Enough employees at the other call centers and business units run down the other call center causing action by senior management to investigate the call center for possible closure.  The investigation uncovers that the call center is performing above company standard in all aspects measurable, the call center remains open, the dislike and discord continue unabated.
  4. A supervisor, to a fellow supervisor, describes a new employee as “unstable.”  Examples include “slamming papers down,” “scowling,” not making eye contact, and the supervisor invokes those action demanding words, “workplace violence,” to the other supervisor.  The second supervisor conditionally concurs based upon the reputation of the first supervisor; neither supervisor notifies human resources; no corroborating investigation occurs.  The second supervisor makes copies of the employee handbook, takes the offending employee aside, explains the observations, details the employee handbook sections applicable, all in an effort to “raise awareness.”  The employee expresses amazement that the first supervisor is receiving this perception and asks for specific instances, specific guidance, and situational training for the new corporate environment to “make the right first impression.”  No underlying causes, discussed in the meeting receive attention, no further training or guidance was received, and shortly after this incident, the employee was terminated.

Reality check, these are not fictitious examples.  Even in a down economy people remain people, organizational contention continues to cost valuable resources, and without significant change to organizational cultures the contention wins.  Even with massive interdiction changing the organizational culture, contention can still win.  Not all is without hope.  People do change, contention does lose, and the pressures feeding contentious responses mitigated.

At this point, some would argue for tougher business policies against employees on employee violence or human resources taking a more aggressive position regarding labor control and/or calling for more professionalism in the workplace towards other employees, ramping up existing or creating new incentive programs, etc.  The list is as endless as customizable solutions for specific incidents.  Others argue that since each organization is unique, unique solutions are required, that the one-size-fits-all or most approach will not be successful, that allowing people to express themselves is all fine and good within certain limits.

Change has come of age, essential and demanding change in thinking and actuality, for success in current market environments.  These former, unsuccessful arguments fail to address the core issues of individual employee responsibility, accountability, and organizational needs, to address organizational contention and foster safe working conditions.

Correcting organizational contention and fostering safe working environments do have a universal answer:  change the employment paradigm.  Traditional thinking on employees imply they “must be managed, controlled, and persuaded to act in a specific manner.”  Because the concept and reality of changing “employees” to “contractors,” specifically those choosing to affiliate with an organizational brand, prepares people to come fully equipped to work with a proper more prosperous mindset to do the job.  They do not need or want managing, controlling, and persuading.  As a result, organizational trust in people to make good decisions is realized when they have a stake in the organization that demands responsibility and accountability.

            Introduced in the article, “Shifting the Employment Paradigm,” are the support for the need of shifting and the reconstruction plan to shift.  This plan rectifies many of the diseases silently killing today’s business organizations through the process of ‘shifting the employment paradigm’ from traditional thinking to new and innovative levels of employee responsibility and accountability.  Employees are smarter, more engaged, and less needful of the expensive pampering traditional thinking forces upon organizations where employee relations are concerned.  It is time to make the change, shift the thinking, and reconstruct the business environment.

© 2012 M. Dave Salisbury

All Rights Reserved