“I’m not comfortable with conflict.”
“My (boss, spouse, teammate…) is not comfortable with conflict.”
Which resonates with you? Does it change whether you are at home, in the workplace, or out in the community?
You may be more or less comfortable depending on the folks involved, issue at stake, or where you are. There is a reason for that…
You may identify conflict with the ways it is sometimes handled: silence, shutting down, withdrawal of attention or affection, yelling, screaming, hitting, shooting or something else. These represent some ways people deal with conflict. Conflict itself is not necessarily negative.
Different viewpoints, varying opinions, and feelings of discontent happen. Conflict itself is neutral. You choose what it means and becomes.
This does not mean you must dive right into a conversation you are not ready to have. Discussing issues with high emotions flying creates more tension.
What if you prefer to face conflict head-on? If you are more direct, it helps to show compassion, and ask what might help someone feel more comfortable. Establish you will provide a safe space for conversation.
What if you are not comfortable with conflict? If you need some time, be clear. Offer a specific date, place, and time to relieve concern that it will be delayed indefinitely.
Think about the needs at stake. Listen first. Acknowledge what you hear. Show empathy. Be open to sharing ideas that neither of you considered beforehand. After sharing your needs and wishes, consider asking, “what does this mean to you?” Remember, what someone hears, and what you want someone to understand, may be quite different.
Yes, the conversation may feel uncomfortable. Short term discomfort has a payoff. You gain peace of mind from getting things out in the open.
Beware: Conversations may increase understanding, generate creative solutions, and improve relationships.
What is your level of comfort with conflict?