Avoid Pointless Conflict & A 26-Hour Shelf Life

By Recognizing Our Perception Is Our Reality

In the world of phenomenology, we are quite accustomed to the notion that ‘our perception is our reality’. But in our contemporary organizations, not too many people are interested in phenomenology. Or at least I don’t think so.

But there is a lot more truth to this adage than most people realize.

When it comes to disagreements or arguments that seem to stem from mere difference of opinions – we can end up wasting a lot of time participating in pointless conflict.

For instance, not too long ago I participated in a conference that I didn’t feel was too productive. It left me frustrated with how I spent those two entire days. I kept thinking about all of the other responsibilities that I could be tending to; and how much more productive I could be – if I hadn’t committed two days to that conference. Needless to say, I was quite perturbed because I felt that my time was completely wasted.

But then I had a conversation with a couple other attendees who felt like the conference was quite valuable. One of them was very pleased with the presentations, topics, and information presented.

At the time, I was frustrated enough to enter into a full-blown disagreement about what a waste of time I felt this conference was. I know that one of the other individuals who enjoyed the conference would have gone to bat with me, if I’d given him the chance. I could sense with his strong opinion, it would have resulted in a very pointless argument.

Wasted Conflict: Stress Harbors a 26-hour Shelf Life

Conflict generally results stem from differences of opinion, facts, or disagreements concerning the particular results of certain expectations. Healthy conflict is necessary in our contemporary workplace because it gives us the potential for growth and change. But some topics that provoke disagreements are a complete waste of time if there is no foreseeable value in coming to a mutually beneficial solution.

Stress management is learning how to deal with stress, not necessarily reducing it. …and we live in a world where stress is a constant.

Our physiological response impacts us in all sorts of ways. We know that. Most of us know from experience.

Considering the threat of raised cortisol levels and we run the risk of impacting the hippocampus, amygdala, even the prefrontal cortex. When stress is prolonged, our bodies start borrowing sources from other systems (such as the endocrine system), thereby leaving us robbed and depleted.

What’s worse is that cortisol has a 26- hour shelf life.

So, back to that two-day conference and the huge difference of opinions I shared with this attendee who voiced such a strong opinion…

Our expectations were different. Our focus and our mindsets were different. Yes, I chalked it up to a misrepresented advertisement and I had quite valid facts to defend my opinion. But in the grand scheme of things, it really wasn’t worth rehashing the perceived value of this conference with my fellow attendee.

There is a lot of truth in the adage that our perception is our reality. Based on my background, experiences, and expectations, I could clearly defend my side of the argument. Based on the other attendee’s background and degree of experience, he had quite valid supporting evidence of value, too.

My perceptions were my reality. His were his. Truth be told, neither of us were really wrong, either.

Why? Because I know that our perception is our reality.

Recognizing that our workforce is comprised of a group of individuals with diverse backgrounds, experiences, cognitive aptitude, and varying degrees of interpersonal skills certainly helps us to recognize the importance of picking our battles.

When we consider the impact of this, it can save a lot of wasted disagreements or pointless arguments. None of us need that extra stress and frustration.

I think I can safely say that most of us have bigger fish to fry.


Dr. Jennifer Beaman
Dr. Jennifer Beaman
FOR over 25 years, Jennifer has served as an executive consultant helping organizational leaders streamline processes and strategies by enhancing skills and practices. Serving as a strategic consultant to industry-wide businesses throughout California, she soon recognized the unparalleled value of human capital. In turn, she introduced leadership and executive development services, thereby providing a more holistic opportunity for clients. Cornerstone to helping leaders recognize the power of their actions and behavior, she weaves the art of emotional intelligence into all interactions, thereby promoting thorough value to the entirety of organizational systems. Joining ranks as a business owner in 2004, she partnered in a California-based sign manufacturing business. This business served a variety of clients, primarily larger corporations, franchises and Fortune 100-500s. In 2008, she participated in partnership in southern California specializing in project management and leadership development services. This corporation served clients ranging from Fortune 50-100s. The Association for Leadership Practitioners is a subsidiary of a parent company opened in 2010 and serves clients ranging from small businesses to Fortune 500s. Dr Beaman also serves as a partner at Chasing Limitless, Inc., providing strategic consulting and executive leadership development services to catapult organizational revenue and growth and primarily serves Fortune 500 companies. She holds a Doctorate in Management with a focus in Organizational Leadership; Master's degree in Organizational Management; and Bachelor's degree in Organizational Development. She is an active member is several professional affiliations and volunteers on a consistent basis helping entrepreneurs and doctoral students working toward publishing their dissertations.

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  1. When we get stressed or frustrated we get that Cortisol pumping through our veins. The older we get, the more longer it takes for our Cortisol levels to go down. For some it can take 3-5 days to get back to normal levels.

    During that time we are in fight/flight mode, reactive mode. And we behave as such. But, when in this state, positive conflict can vent that pressure and reduce our stress levels. Positive conflict is putting someone slightly out of their comfort zone. You’re nudging, not prodding. Teasing can be a form of positive conflict. Have a heated philosophical discussion can be another way.

    Yes, we must avoid pointless conflict. But when we do have conflict, we must be the ones that set the place and the time.

  2. I was totally getting the drift of your article Jennifer. Wonderful topic. Your example was true of some of my own experiences with conferences. I remember telling my boss once that we needed to get our money back. She let it go. I’m sure she realized your last statement and was off frying shark.

    I’ve since learned about conferences though, that there are many viewpoints when it comes to what makes it good or deficient. Sometimes it makes no logical sense. I claim.the adage “when the student is ready the instructor appears”.

  3. Truly Perception is reality. I love that statement. When I first started in retail it was so hard for me to understand that how a person perceives something is reality for that person. You don’t change the person , you change the perception. Great article thank you Dr. Jennifer