Conflict is like having car problems. I don’t think anybody rejoices when their vehicle gets a flat tire, or the engine light flashes, or the GPS doesn’t work. Car problems require time, money, and patience. And so it is with relationships too. Relationships, like cars, require care and maintenance, and sometimes they need time, money, and patience to address conflict. It’s just the nature of the beast. So when LeAnn talked about how conflict could be a good thing, my inquiring mind wanted to know more.
Debby: You say on page 37 that “…conflict is sometimes a good thing. Despite my BAT (bad attitude type), some of the conflicts I have had due to perceived injustices have provided me the clarity of what is and is not acceptable to my core values.” Can you provide any insights or suggestions on how to navigate through conflict well?
- Find your voice. For anything good or healthy to come out of a conflict, both parties need a voice. If you never express your views, I recommend you evaluate the health of the relationship. It could be the relationship you have with your significant other, your boss, a parent, a child, or a friend.
- Choose your battles. Save the fight for the things that truly matter. If every conflict is about personal annoyances, pet peeves, and bad attitudes, you may be at risk of destroying a meaningful relationship. I think about the early days of my marriage. Things were so much more volatile in our relationship as we navigated through personal preferences, parenting, finances, running a house, and creating a home. It’s essential to understand the difference between values and feelings that are worth a conflict versus you wanting your way. Ask yourself, will this matter in six months?
- Listen. We spend way more time defending our position than we do genuinely listening to the other person. There is so much love and respect to be found in listening to someone and sincerely hearing what they are telling you.
- Don’t define feelings by telling someone else what they’re feeling, how they should feel, or to justify their feelings. There could be a long list of reasons why people feel the way they do. We are not always privy to the stories or challenges of another person. There is also a chance that their feelings are the consequence of their insecurities or deep-seated pain. Every person’s opinions, beliefs, and attitudes are a result of their unique experiences in life. Promote vulnerability and honesty over your agenda.
- Manage your emotions. Don’t make the other person your emotional punching bag. Sometimes we take out our insecurities, frustrations, and hurt on the people we love the most. The right people want you to feel worthy, empowered, and safe. Trust their intentions. Making someone else feel small will never bring you peace.
“As I answered these questions,” LeAnn said, “I felt the urge to add the caveat of grace. Every relationship consists of imperfect people. At any moment, people can be unkind, impatient, or inconsiderate. The moment we begin to expect perfection from the people joining us in our journey through life, we risk losing the extraordinary experience of meaningful connections. The business of being human can be quite messy–and quite complicated. But the “right” people, the kind people, the ones who love and care for us, are worth it.”
and stay momentous.
I dedicate this month’s blogging in support of April: Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Child Abuse Prevention Month. See RAINN.org for resources and to learn how to provide positive support to survivors.