Do you actively avoid conflict? Could conflict ever be a good thing? Check out my latest article on why I believe “Conflict isn’t a dirty word”

Why is it that at the mere thought of conflict, many of us go into a spin? It sends our heart racing, our brain flustered and our nervous system into overdrive as we desperately rack our brains for any way to avoid it.

And whilst there are better ways to approach conflict (think mature vs immature), if you find yourself avoiding conflict, then, inevitably you will find yourself attracting more conflict as a result.

Often as children, we learn that it is better to be agreeable, to blend in, avoid rocking the boat for fear that we may alienate ourselves. When in fact what we are doing, is teaching ourselves that our thoughts, our opinions, our voice doesn’t count. No wonder there are so many indecisive adults around!

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that you should ark up at every little thing you disagree with or push to always get your way. No, not at all. It isn’t a my way or the highway approach I’m suggesting. What it is, though, is learning when to voice your opinion because something really matters to you (you need to be heard) or you want a specific option to be explored.

When we actively avoid conflict, little bumps in the road left unresolved become big mountains to get across. The saying “nip it in the bud” definitely applies to bringing up issues earlier than later.

So how can you go about getting more comfortable with the idea of facing conflict head on?

  1. Change the way you view conflict. Raise your concerns or issues from a position of problem solving rather than blame or attack. You want to seek to be understood, not seek to be right. Think of conflict as simply solving a problem or negotiating an outcome. Actually, it really is just another discussion. We get distracted because emotions can run hot, however if conflict is broached with consideration and without emotion, debates can run fairly smoothly. Someone doesn’t have to be wrong or at fault nor does someone have to win or lose in the discussion.
  2. Lose the emotion and blame language. Stop expecting the other person to “know” how you feel or the problem you feel they have created. Start the conversation with “I’m feel or I’m experiencing xxx problem when x happens, can we talk through what we can do together to resolve it.”
  3. Let go of the need be right. Focus on getting a resolution not being right. Conflict often becomes heated when the focus of the conflict centres on who is more right rather than achieving a resolution. It becomes a power play. It’s like nothing else matters except hearing the other person acknowledge “you were right, I was wrong” instead of what is needed to move things forward.

At the end of the day, if handled maturely, resolving conflict should move you forward to a more positive place of resolution and less angst. Ultimately, it stops you ruminating on it. Avoiding conflict keeps you stuck in the problem no matter how many times you tell yourself it doesn’t matter, if you’re thinking about it, you’re giving energy to it. And I know a million things I’d rather spend my energy on.