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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Brave or Foolish? Broaching Conflict

“We live in the midst of alarms; anxiety beclouds the future; we expect some new disaster with each newspaper we read.”

~Abraham Lincoln.

If there’s one guaranteed skill we’ll need in all our relationships it is effective conflict resolution; the objective—active listening of both parties, understanding and eventually, forgiveness and commitment to change.

What about when we’ve got something controversial to say? We know it’s going to produce conflict and we really don’t know which way it’ll go. No one can accurately and consistently predict another person’s response, no matter how much we know them.

Perhaps this situation takes two things. First it is obviously a case of courage that is required. But secondly, and equally important, it’s wisdom we need.

‘Brave or foolish’ translates into ‘courage and wisdom’ to hopefully crisis-manage, with good effect, the issues at hand. It takes a plan for approaching the other person at the right time, with the right attitude and information, and in the right way.

Many people in relationships, however, shirk the risks of hurt and conflict and simply forego the opportunities to bring things to a head. They’re scared of upsetting the apple-cart. Denial of the problems is not going to help; they won’t go away just because we pretend they’re not there. Indeed, the situation can only slowly and eventually get worse.

Forgiveness and a ‘moving on’ is the necessary end point we’re trying to achieve—to the point that no emotional baggage clings to us as we and they go about the rest of our lives.

If we’re not careful we can start to see things as the Abraham Lincoln quote suggests; everything going from bad to worse at the flick of a television on/off switch or the opening of a newspaper. This can easily rub directly off on our relationships as we fear backlash coming and just simply take the easy way because we see everything negatively.

Yet, we must know, ironically, the “easy” way is the hard way.

Tackle your issues, do so wisely, and don’t give up on conflicts—resolve them or accept they will never be resolvable. Either way, move on.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

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