Does conflict make you so uncomfortable that you will not engage in it? Do you leave situations unresolved? Do you blow up at the wrong things and at inappropriate times?
If you said yes to these questions, then you are most likely a Conflict Avoider. Avoiding conflict can leave you feeling hurt, angry, sad, or exhausted. It is harmful to your emotional and physical well-being.
For Conflict Avoiders, conflict has an emotional quality to it. Conflict feels like an argument or an attack. What Conflict Avoiders miss that can hurt them, are the great opportunities to brainstorm and negotiate. When you avoid conflict, you miss the opportunity to positively create with others.
Conflict Avoiders rarely say what they need or get their opinions heard. They keep so much inside that they often blow up at the wrong people, at the wrong things, or at the wrong time. Bottling up what needs to be voiced can lead to being burnt out as well. You become so exhausted from the real issue festering. Often, Conflict Avoiders quit their jobs because they have not managed the conflict and it overwhelms them.
"In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity"
- Albert Einstein
How to Stop Avoiding Conflict:
1. Understand Your Perception of Conflict
Ask yourself, "When did I start feeling this way?" "When have I been able to handle conflict better?" "When does conflict feel its worse to me?"
Does your reaction to conflict have a similar thread to other conflict that you have experienced (e.g., when someone questions your authority)?
2. Practice Thought Awareness
During conflict, step away from it and write down what thoughts are occurring to you. By tracking negative thoughts for a period of time, you can quickly see patterns in your negative thinking. Now, analyze what you wrote. You should be able to identify the most common and most damaging thoughts. Focus on these thoughts. Remember, you can only manage thoughts that you are aware of.
3. Challenge Your Thoughts
Look at the thoughts you wrote down and challenge them. Ask yourself if it is rational or if you need to test it. For instance, if you have thoughts of inadequacy then ask yourself: Do I have the right skill set for my position? Do I have the resources I need to do my job well? If you resolve that you are well-aligned and prepared for your job, then you will see that your worry is unsubstantiated.
4. Retrain Your Brain
After challenging your thought pattern, replace it with affirmations. This is retraining the brain to respond in a new and different manner. For example, if you have thoughts of inadequacy, replace those thoughts with "I am well prepared for my job. I have considered and prepared for all possible scenarios. I can succeed at what I do."
Avoiding conflict produces harmful results to the avoider. Experiencing conflict differently and engaging with it in a healthy way will make you feel more empowered and engaged.