I love when people ask me why I studied conflict management in college. My answer is typically pretty simple; if there’s one constant in life, it’s that conflict is inevitable. No matter where we look, there’s conflict. We face conflict at work, conflict at home, conflict in our relationships and with friends, and we face internal conflict within ourselves. We can’t escape it; we can only become better at handling it and managing how it affects us. I chose to study conflict management and resolution because I wanted better understand what causes it so I could learn how to effectively address it. Here’s what I found:
Lack of communication is the main reason why the majority of all conflict is never resolved effectively. It doesn’t matter what started the conflict; the lack of communication is like throwing gasoline on the fire. But if we solve that misconnect then the conflict is solved right? Wrong. If only it were that simple…
I believe there are three main reasons why most conflict exist:
- Frustrated Repetition
- Lack of understanding
Of course it’s more complicated than this but these three things I believe lie in the root cause of most conflicts. Most of us have been in a conflict of some sort where stubbornness played a role…Sometimes one person (or party) in a conflict has dug their feet in so far that stubbornness prevents them from seeing any other option than continuing to fight until they get their way.
Second comes frustrated repetition. Have you ever been so frustrated by the same thing happening over and over again that you’ve found yourself repeating yourself over and over? Have you noticed your voice getting loader or your tone getting more stern with each frustrated repetition? Whether it’s a child not listening to their parents and cleaning up their toys or a spouse not upholding their household duties even though constantly reminded, conflict is inevitable with enough frustrated repetition. Don’t believe me? Don’t listen to someone enough time when the ask you to do something and see what happens…
Lastly, lack of understanding. We don’t all come from the same household, raised with the same rules, values and principles, part of the same culture. People think differently and consequently, act differently. Without the ability to understand that fact, conflict is inevitable.
Here’s my solution:
We must understand that our way doesn’t have to be the only way. Relief of that stubbornness will relieve so much stress that leads to conflict. It’s never too late to back yourself out of a corner and try something other than fighting back. Listen to each other. Don’t make people repeat something that isn’t worth fighting for. And hear the words they are saying. Respect how they feel even if you don’t feel the same way. Understand that somethings will mean more to others than they will to you. Sometimes you wont want to hang up Christmas lights on November 3rd (sorry babe – I had to) but do it anyway. And most importantly, sometimes, even if you were right, people need to be let off the hook. Some fights aren’t worth the effort.
If conflict is inevitable than spend less time engaging the conflict and more time focusing on the resolution and prevention of the same conflicts repeating themselves.
By: Timothy A. Natale
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