Like always I like to begin with something from my personal experience. The most important characteristic of creativity is that, “You are never wrong”. This being the simplest aspect is the most difficult to understand. It is as simple as understanding the fact that you like blue color and I don’t. Now there is nothing to fight or get upset about it. But the ego comes into to play and what should be called creative interpretations become creative conflicts.
This incident happened during my stint at a digital marketing agency. I remember clearly how my colleague and I had a huge showdown over the design of a social media post that each one of us had created to be posted over his account. This went on to become a full blown altercation. It was only a few days later when we realized that the client had rejected both our designs and opted for a third one.
Creative conflicts are an inevitable part of the creative process. Whether you’re working on a team or tackling a project on your own, it’s common to encounter differences of opinion, approaches, and styles. While conflicts can sometimes lead to better outcomes, they can also be a source of frustration and tension if not managed effectively. One of the biggest challenges in resolving creative conflicts is the impact of ego – the desire to be right or to protect one’s own ideas and perspective.
The important thing to understand here is that it is ok to think that you are right, the problem begins when you start believing that ONLY you are right.
Ego can be a powerful force in creative conflicts, leading individuals to dig in their heels and resist the ideas of others. This can create a stalemate, making it difficult to move forward and find a resolution. In addition, ego can also lead to a lack of openness to new ideas and perspectives, which can stifle creativity and innovation.
So, how can we overcome the desire to be right and work through creative conflicts more effectively? Here are a few strategies to consider:
Empathy involves understanding and seeing things from the perspective of others. By taking the time to understand where others are coming from, it can be easier to let go of the need to be right and find common ground. This practice can greatly improve you own creativity. When you try to deconstruct the creative vision of another person you sometimes realize the width of the spectrum that is still waiting to be explored.
Foster a culture of open communication
Encourage team members to speak up and share their ideas, even if they differ from your own. This can be compared to being open to trying different cuisines. As individuals from a certain background we have our tastes developed to a particular cuisine. However, most of us are open to trying out something different, just to discover a new favorite. The same approach can work wonders in the creative arena. When I decided to discover the layers of creativity which did not confirm to my standards, I realized that my outputs were vastly improving and then it becomes a truly enjoyable exercise – which is what creativity should be. On a lighter note, on rare occasions you do get that superiority complex of being extremely good at your job.
Focus on the goal
Remember that the ultimate goal is to create something great, not to be right. By keeping the bigger picture in mind, it can be easier to let go of the need to be right and work towards a resolution that benefits the project as a whole. It helps to understand that you cannot please everyone at the same time with the same thing, so as long as you are delivering to your target consumers and at the same time managing to maintain sanity, you are doing a good job.
Use “I” statements
Rather than making statements that blame or criticize others, try using “I” statements to express your own perspective and feelings. For example, instead of saying “you’re wrong,” try saying “I feel frustrated because I see things differently.” This can help to defuse tension and facilitate more productive discussions.
Seek outside perspective
Sometimes it can be helpful to bring in a neutral third party to facilitate a resolution. This could be a mediator, a mentor, or even a colleague who is not directly involved in the conflict.
Practice active listening
When trying to resolve a creative conflict, it’s important to listen actively and attentively to what others have to say. This means setting aside any distractions, making eye contact, and actively engaging with the other person’s perspective.
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Find common ground
Look for areas of agreement and build on them. Even if you don’t agree on everything, there may be elements of each perspective that can be incorporated into a solution that works for everyone.
By applying these strategies, it’s possible to overcome the desire to be right and work through creative conflicts more effectively. Remember, conflicts are a natural part of the creative process and can sometimes lead to better outcomes. By learning to manage conflicts in a healthy and productive way, it’s possible to foster a culture of collaboration and creativity.
Finally, I wish to offer you a rather bold suggestion, if you are unable to resolve your creative conflicts, it would be a better idea to move out of the situation. Creativity is something that stems from the deepest instinct of one’s personality and not being accepted can have a detrimental effect on your personality. As a result, this seemingly inconsequential thing called creative difference can play havoc with your personality causing serious health issues like depression, anxiety, and hypertension which could lead to low self-esteem and also suicidal tendencies.
You might feel that I am taking it too far and blowing it out of proportion, but let me give you a small exercise – the next time you are out with your spouse or loved one, try having a difference of opinion over the color of the curtains, the food to be ordered or the movie that you must go to… the resulting arguments will make you realize the gravity of the situation.
I wish you all the best with all your creative pursuits.