Conflict Aversion: Light Bulb or Shut Down?

A good friend of mine whom I call the Wave Rider often tells people, who seem to be struggling with some life problem, the essence of one of the messages of this blog. Namely that we are very conflict averse as a species, or at least we are very good at avoiding recognizing we are in conflict. We spend a lot of time in conflict denial. And one reason for this is that we are often very internally conflicted, and we hate that very idea, that we are not at one with ourselves, or with our significant others, though it is often the case. And so when external conflict with another person comes up, we often prefer to deny we are in conflict, until the conflict festers and we have to deal with it.

She was telling me yesterday, that when she explains this to these people with problems, some of them look as if a light bulb has flashed in their brains, and they ask her to explain in more detail what this means, and what to do about it. And she explains how to use such inner and outer conflict creatively to invent new solutions to old festering problems. They look like they get it. And they may even ask for the URL of this blog….

But the majority of people she talks about conflict aversion to, react as if they are desperately trying to shut down an uncomfortable feeling, and rapidly change the subject. These are the people who are so conflict averse that even the words ‘conflict aversion’ cause a negative reaction of uncertainty, fear and anxiety. These people are not really open to the idea that good disciplined conflict handling can overcome these negative feelings, and indeed allow them to handle conflict internal or external more comfortably. To get a much better result not only in conflict outcomes, but in their relationships with those they are in conflict with, including disparate parts of their own personality.

But they are likely not reading this blog nor are they likely to adopt disciplined approaches to conflict handling if they accidentally stumble across it…which is a pity. And I note that readers of this blog favor postings that are about the content of a specific conflict. They don’t really read the to me far more useful postings about ways to handle conflict differently, the postings about conflict discipline. Which is an even bigger pity….

About creativeconflictwisdom

I spent 32 years in a Fortune Five company working on conflict: organizational, labor relations and senior management. I have consulted in a dozen different business sectors and the US Military. I work with a local environmental non profit. I have written a book on the neuroscience of conflict, and its implications for conflict handling called Creative Conflict Wisdom (forthcoming).
This entry was posted in Conflict Processes, Marital and Relationship Conflict, Uncategorized, Ways to handle conflict and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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