Conflict. Cultural differences. Injustice. We’ve all experienced them.
Conflicts are draining. Some more than others. Some are able to be resolved quickly and amicably with no future repercussions and no scars left behind. Others drag on infinitely and are brutal. Some are one time deals, others seem to crop up more frequently. It all depends on who is involved. I once heard a saying, “If Susan has a problem with Bob, and Matt has a problem with Bob, and Jim has a problem with Bob, then its sounds like the problem is Bob.” Now that’s a pretty clear perspective.
No one is exempt from conflict. Whether it is on the job, between friends, in the family, or even out in the world minding your own business interacting with people, conflict is sure to arise at some point. Those who are rude, arrogant, selfish, or superior, rightfully offend us.
Did you know you have a choice of how to respond to a conflict contrary to your instinctive reactions to participating in it and making it worse?
Seems like a silly question, but I think that many of us feel that when conflict arises we must initially fight back at the same level, contribute to the nastiness, and participate in the escalation. How refreshing to know that we don’t have to do this.
We all have a choice as to how we respond to conflict and what the final outcome of any conflict will ultimately be. We either contribute to the nastiness of the conflict or we can seek to resolve it. Sometimes, we simply must remove ourselves from conflicts entirely when we see no possible resolution and we’ve done everything we can to attain peace. That’s when we walk away to find our own peace.
We are either a fighter or a resolver in a conflict. Those who are fighters, impulsively react in anger only escalating the conflict. They aren’t looking for a resolution, that’s not on their agenda. They only want to display their anger, dictate demands and cause chaos. They want to control the situation.
Resolvers assess the situation and try to find common ground in order to resolve the conflict. Resolvers try to reason with the initiator of the conflict doing everything in their power to avoid it and fix it. You can’t reason with a fighter. They just want to fight.
Should you be lucky enough to be in a conflict with another resolver, then there will be no drama and no ugliness. The conflict will quickly conclude with both parties reaching peace with each other, happily putting it behind them and consciously considering each other’s feelings in the future cultivating a path of growing a healthy relationship and working on any flaws together. Ah, normality!
The initial onset of a conflict arises when one person begins to question or control another’s behavior or viewpoint. Sometimes it’s justifiable. Other times, it’s unwarranted. Unwarranted conflicts are when the “pot stirrers” find a problem with everything, are eternal victims, never happy, don’t respect anyone else’s viewpoint, have no accountability for their actions and have a sense of entitlement. They practice no self-control with their anger, want to control everything, and things turn ugly fast. These are the conflicts that cannot be resolved and you must walk away from them in order for you to find peace.
Times when conflicts are necessary include feeling like we are being taken advantage of, disrespected, controlled, or otherwise being treated unfairly. This prompts us to confront the offender. I would imagine everyone who initiates conflict feels this way. Two points: 1) Resolvers confront issues. Fighters start a conflict. There is a huge difference. 2) This statement presumes that one’s perspective of these situations is a reasonable and an accurate assessment of an offense. Expectations of preferential treatment and entitlement are not reasonable assessments. The norms in which society is expected to behave are considered reasonable here.
Once that confrontation takes place, it can go one of two ways depending on the parties involved. Acknowledging the wrong behavior, apologizing, and vowing to correct the behavior in the spirit of reconciliation and harmony, or it can turn into an ugly retaliation consisting of ultimatums, accusations, and more disrespectful behavior.
Not all confrontations need to be conflicts. Two rational, mature adults airing their differences can come to a compromising resolution if they both desire it. One person cannot do this alone. There have to be two people involved in a resolution. Two people who respect the other’s point of view and care enough about each other to resolve the issue. It’s impossible to move on without resolution after a conflict and not have resentment. This resentment will only result in future conflicts. No psychiatric degree needed for this conclusion.
In normal conflicts, people eventually cool down and assess the situation and truly want to come to a resolution. In situations that escalate due to the unwillingness to resolve issues and any attempts at peace is not a conflict, its control, and manipulation.
I surround myself with those who want peace and resolution in conflict, understand that differences of opinions will arise and know it’s not a cause for hateful revenge. My “circle” is filled with genuine people who seek to nip issues in the bud and resolve them as soon as possible. For us, conflicts eat away at our soul. They play over and over in our mind and we obsess about making it right. We have an uneasy and unsettling feeling in our being that we want to eliminate so we resolvers do anything we can to make peace – up to a point.
Fighters will continue the conflict, at any cost. They simply don’t care who they hurt along the way or the destruction they cause and refuse to compromise or take accountability, projecting all the blame in order to come out looking “right” or the one who has been wronged and making the other person look crazy. Why would one choose to be around this behavior? Walk away and have peace.
Conflict resolution is very simple and can be attained by two healthy individuals. Rationally talking things out in a calm manner, learning, understanding, and respecting the other’s viewpoints, taking accountability, and coming to an amicable agreement on how to move forward is not that difficult. Pride and stubbornness will always hinder a resolution. Anyone not willing to make these simple efforts truly does not want to resolve issues and reconcile. There will never be peace in these situations and it is highly likely that another conflict is just around the corner with people like this. Cut your losses and live in peace.
Are you a fighter or a resolver in a conflict? Do you recognize any of the traits listed above in yourself? Are you willing to admit that you could do better in conflicts, resolve them sooner and without being so harsh? Or are you the resolver who has done everything you can to resolve a conflict and have been rejected at every attempt at peace? Did you learn anything new from my perspective on conflicts? If so, please share your comments and consider following my blog. Stay tuned for my next blog, Taking the High Road, Part 1, followed by Taking The High Road, Part 2, A list of do’s and don’ts for truly taking the high road in conflicts.