Wanna' Fight?

December 18, 2020
# min read
Rob Long

Not Really! Interpersonal conflict, do you avoid it? It's not uncommon to shy away from conflict even if it is simple disagreement. Problem is, avoiding working through differences often results in poorer outcomes, and can give rise to exaggerated negative emotions. Both are outcomes that can and should be avoided.

A companion question is: "Do you believe that conflict is inevitable?" The answer is "Yes". Regardless of how harmonious the relationship there will always be some point of disagreement along the way. Chances are a lot more than just one!

It would be great if constructive conflict just happened by magic, but the reality is that one must be intentional about getting positive results. Here are some tips: Your first reaction may be negative. Don't let that thought influence your next step. Hit a mental pause button; take a deep breath; you just need a moment to remind yourself you want something positive out of the interaction.

Start with yourself: What do you want out of the interaction? What do you want for the other party? How do you need to act to make that happen? (remember my earlier post on Crucial Conversations)

You're responsible for how you feel. No matter what the other party says or does, you are making the internal decision about how to react. If your reactions come spontaneously then you may be making them unconsciously, influenced by previous conditioning. Work to understand the 'how' and 'why' of your feelings before engaging further. It may be worthwhile to put off a conflict discussion for a short time to give yourself some processing time before re-engaging.

Avoid blame language. When we use blame language we're not taking responsibility for our feelings. "Jim, you make me so angry." You may react angrily to what Jim has said or done, but that reaction comes from within you. Jim is not forcing you to be angry. Also, using blame language sets the other on the defensive, which automatically raises the emotional stakes of the conflict, most often in a negative way.

Develop better listening skills. You've got two ears and one mouth. Try to listen twice as much as you talk!

Being intentional about making inevitable conflict constructive conflict is worth the effort. A better life for you and the world!

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