Conflict is Bad and Should Be Avoided, Right?
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word “conflict”?
For some of us that can be a terrifying word, but what if it was not scary but instead something we need to embrace. In fact, conflict is something that is a part of all of our lives, but not all of us have a healthy relationship with it. When it comes to dealing with conflict in our lives one thing is for certain, avoiding it altogether is one of the easiest and simultaneously one of the most difficult ways to live our lives and manage our relationships. Although at the time of initial conflict letting things go or burying frustrations may seem like the noble route, doing this can lead to a build up of resentment within one or both parties and if left unresolved for too long, may lead to much more damaging conflict in the future or the destruction of the relationship.
Most of us have seen this scenario play out in some form in our lives: Someone says or does something fairly innocent or minor in nature and all of the sudden a volcano erupts from the other person involved, seemingly out of nowhere. Usually this is an example of someone avoiding conflict and burying frustration after frustration until they just can’t handle it anymore and unleash all that built up anger and resentment on the other party, who usually sees the explosion as unwarranted and unfair. For those of us who are wired to avoid conflict of any kind, the mere thought of speaking up or confronting conflict when it happens seems terrifying, but there are simple and healthy ways to approach conflict in our lives without building anger and resentment and without damaging relationships.
- Assertiveness vs Aggressiveness
The best way to initially deal with conflict it to be assertive at the moment of conflict. This can seem counterintuitive but the goal is to be assertive and not angry or aggressive. It is important to address the conflict in the moment or soon after so that the interaction is still clear and present in everyone’s mind and can be resolved. Being assertive in conflict simply means telling the truth about what you are experiencing and how you are feeling.
- Use Facts but Avoid Absolutes
When trying to resolve the conflict it is essential to point out what the conflict is about because many times people aren’t even aware they are causing conflict in the first place. Another important aspect of conflict resolution is to use facts and avoid exaggeration or embellishment because this quickly creates defensiveness and discredits your point of view. Also avoid using absolutes or sweeping generalizations when identifying problems. Phrases like “You always…” or “You Never…” can be more harmful than they are productive and can also weaken what may be a valid point. Phrasing like this also leads to defensiveness and when resolving conflict the goal should not be to make any parties involved feel attacked or like they need to defend themselves.
- Share your Perspective and LISTEN to theirs as well
One of the most important aspects of conflict resolution is to not only share your viewpoint and concerns, but to be open and listen to others as well. Whenever conflict arises it is usually not just a one-way street, be open to the perspective of others and understand that you may be causing conflict without realizing it as well. It is important to listen without making assumptions or thinking you know what the problem is. Actually listening and making the other person feel as if they have been truly heard can go a very long way in resolving conflict.
- Always be Respectful and Make Resolution the Goal
When working through conflict it is important to be respectful to avoid escalation and to work towards the goal of resolving the conflict. Try to avoid the pitfalls of petty arguments like playing the blame game or trying to be the one who is “right”. Avoid bringing up past transgressions that are irrelevant to the conflict at hand, this will only cause more problems and take you further away from your ultimate goal. Keep in mind the goal is to resolve the conflict and anything that is detrimental to that goal should be avoided. Treating everyone involved with respect and working together to solve issues is the only way to have a healthy relationship with conflict.
It is important to remember that the absence of conflict is the absence of intimacy and in order to build healthy, open, and lasting relationships we must learn to embrace conflict and practice doing it well!
Contact Redeemed Life Counseling at (940)222-8552 or www.redeemedlifecounseling.com to schedule an appointment! One of our highly skilled counselors will get back with you right away!
Clinical Director and Co-Owner at Redeemed Life Counseling