Can Creating Conflict Ever Be Good?

Posted By on August 26th

Can creating conflict ever be good? Let’s deconstruct Donald Trump’s run for President as a case study. (This is not a political commentary.)

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore via Compfight cc

Trump is the kind of guy who says whatever he wants when he wants without concern for others people’s feelings. This is an interesting test of what the general US population will support. As a leader, Trump is causing conflict among the ranks? Is that okay?

Trump obviously has a base of support. There are people who think that he is saying what needs to be said, and they like him because he’s not apologizing for his views. Trump has stated he has freedom to say whatever he wants.

In an opinion piece in The Blaze, Susan Calloway Knowles referred to Trump as a “release valve for fed up Americans who have been unable to voice their own opinions”. She wrote, “He has become the voice of many who have reluctantly remained silent because they fear losing everything they own.”

On the other hand, Sen. Marco Rubio, who is running against Trump, responded to Trump’s statements about Mexican immigrants with a different perspective. Rubio called the statements “not just offensive and inaccurate, but also divisive.”

So, which is it? Is Trump uniting the majority or dividing the majority? Or is it sort of both? Is Trump representing the majority AND dividing the country at the same time? So far, Trump is polling well as a Republican candidate. There’s a theory that people are tapping into Trump’s persona because it represents strength, confidence, and authority. Meg Mott, a professor of politics and gender studies at Marlboro College, says, “In the Spanish-speaking world, this type of leader is known as a Caudillo, the man on horseback who takes out the bad guys and leads his people to safety. He’s rough and he doesn’t care about fine things like legal rights, but that very roughness means he can get things done.”

Trump’s attitude and perspective have certainly served him well as a businessman when you are measuring financial success. However, can he be successful uniting the country?

The most successful leaders find a way to say what needs to be said while also uniting people. There are polls that suggest although Trump is polling well in the Republican party, he is not placed well for the general election. Maybe Trump’s popularity is a reflection of the frustrated, silent masses, but can he speak on their behalf while also uniting a country? He’s not showing that so far.

Conflict can force people to have discussions that are being avoided, but that’s not enough. Beyond discussion, there has to be solutions. As Trump’s campaign moves along, we’ll see if he’s the type of leader that can only tear down or successfully rebuild also.

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About the author

Keith Grossman helps individuals and businesses negotiate and manage conflict more comfortably. Keith is a Collaborative Attorney, a Family and Circuit Civil mediator certified by the Supreme Court of Florida, an Arbitrator qualified by the Florida Supreme Court, and an educator. Keith frequently lectures and facilitates training programs, works with individuals one-on-one, and writes articles on conflict management and negotiation topics. His e-workbooks, “What Is A Peace Chest?” and “How Do You Build A Peace Chest?“ are now available on Kindle.


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