My phone rang the other day from a friend who was having an awful day. Her neighbor had become hostile to the point of screaming at my friend’s children, even when they were playing in their own yard. At one point the neighbor actually hosed my friend in anger, and made threatening remarks. This is conflict, real conflict! How do you deal with it?
There was a girl in college who seriously tried my patience. She was unkind, difficult to work with, manipulative, and self-serving, yet we were supposed to be working as a team. This too, is conflict!
As I watch my young grand daughters playing, one will attempt to take the lead and usually the other will follow, but there are occasions when the follower just isn’t in the mood to follow and becomes obstinate about how things will be done. Before long there is a shouting match and an occasional “accidental push!” This is conflict!
But what about those whispers of negativity or “juicy gossip” we are so quick to share about another person? Isn’t this “conflict” of another kind? While we aren’t in the middle of “said” situation, we must have some amount of negative feeling toward the person we are discussing, especially if the information can be hurtful in any way. Usually these juicy tidbits are sure to affect someone, and can create issues in several different camps! I suggest this too, is conflict!
I remember many years ago, my 17 year-old-son was accused of “partying and drinking” one night before arriving at work the next morning because he collapsed once he'd arrived and looked just awful! Not only was he falsely accused, the bearer of the tale, his supervisor, shared her “information” with a good many people! The truth was, he was home at a very respectable hour and didn’t drink! What she didn’t know was he had a medical condition which caused the collapse. This created conflict!
I am not a confrontational kind of person and try very hard to avoid conflict. Yet the morning the information “hit the airwaves” about my son, I became very upset! First I paced, then I cried, and then I finally went to chat with his supervisor. While I didn’t scream, holler, or anything like that, I made my feelings very clear on her ill advised rumor! It was hurtful and wrong, and once she found out the particulars, she did apologize.
There are those who believe conflict has been given a bad reputation, and suggest to have conflict, is to strengthen a relationship rather than destroy it. To keep from confrontation, in their minds, can be dangerous because feelings become buried until finally there is an explosion.1 That, from my perspective, depends on personality and while that may indeed be true, there are those who just handle it differently.
I challenge you to consider how you respond to conflict. Storms in life are a part of living. It's how you deal with the storms that make a difference. Are you confrontational? Do you prefer getting things “out in the open?” Do you find creating boundaries or just not being afraid of conflict, helpful? Share your thoughts!