Conflict Avoidance is Resolution Avoidance

Meeting resistance, obstruction, defensiveness, or down right obstinance can be intimidating. Strong views and strong emotions can easily trigger an emotional reaction in you and those reactions can be uncomfortable. Often it seems easier to simply avoid these types of conflict and do your best to cope with the problem you’re dealing with than move into an emotionally charged space.

Beyond avoidance of these uncomfortable emotions, many people even pride themselves on living lives without conflict. They see themselves as peacemakers, nice guys, or easy going. However it’s essential to see that though this result can seem ‘low stress’ in the short-term, conflict avoidance leads to lack of resolution and thus more stress in the long-term.

Here are three ideas that might help you move toward resolution and away from avoidance:

1. Be resolution minded. Remember when you enter into a conflict that your goal is to achieve an outcome that is hopefully better for everyone. Seek understanding and don’t get caught into ego or personality.

2. Conflict is about ideas. Fighting is about personalities. To stay resolution minded its important that you stay focused on the ideas that are in conflict and not engage in a fight between people. Make sure your goal is to find the best idea, not to ‘win’. Winning is about ego, resolution is about outcome.

3. Avoid “I” and “You” language. Put yourself on the same team when resolving the conflict by using “we” and by talking about the goals you want to achieve and the ideas that will achieve them. Give up ownership of your idea as soon as its out there and let it stand on its own.

I found when I was most caught in avoiding conflict that making a list of the things that I wanted to resolve and seeking to resolve one thing each day, helped me tremendously in facing my fears and learning new skills.