Dec 08

You can Learn to Handle Conflict Better!

Conflict is all around you!

Let us help you find your way through the Conflict Jungle! Today we begin this first series with an ‘Intro to Healthy Conflict Resolution’. It is important to lay down a realistic foundation as to what conflict is, how we handle it in good and not-so-good ways and what this Blog can offer you as our readers.

Conflict in life is unavoidable; it’s all around us. It would be an unreal expectation to think we could live without conflict. It may surprise you, but conflict can be a productive experience – depending on how you approach it! It starts in our childhood, comes with our jobs, it’s present in our families and all relationships. To be human is to experience friction with others.

Different people react differently as we all handle conflict in different ways. Our reactions are both instinctive and learned from our past. We all want acceptance, love and security, so we try to live life without conflicts. Few people enjoy facing conflict……..but we can learn better skills in handling the unavoidable conflicts we all must face.

We can learn the skills needed to face conflicts. However, there is little emphasis on such relationship skills in our education system, our community or even in our churches. So where did you learn how to meet the inevitable conflicts of life?

We learn by what we were exposed to. Sad to say, some of those lessons we saw between our parents, other adults, or what was allowed in your Family of Origin were not always the best examples of resolving the quarrels and arguments around you. Some of us saw the usually ways conflict was handled: withdrawal, avoidance, compromise or even violence as a way of enforcing one person’s will over others.

On top of your Family of Origin stuff, we have all believed a variety of myths about conflict as well. Some of the ‘self-talk’ about conflict is what scares us into giving into others who may be better debaters than we are. It is common to yield to someone who can defend their position better than you – even if they do not have the truth to start with. We don’t have to dominate or withdrawal, give in or fight others, for our space and boundaries.

We each have our own ‘fight styles’ and ways to handle that friction with others. As we shall see, many of those ways we have learned are not healthy ways to face others. Some of us give in when we need to say “No, I feel ….. when you do ….. Can we please …..” We can learn better communication skills in standing up for the truth.

The one person you need to learn to stand up for in this world is YOU! Many people struggle to resist the domination by others; some have problems expressing their needs and wants. However, in the journey called “life”, most of the decisive battles are fought within you. Again it is important for you to see what’s really going on inside you, in your heart – and why that heart belief is there. This ‘aha’ is a foundational step to change. Going through a tough conflict situation in a ‘safe place’ can help you to learn a healthy style of ‘fighting’.

For those of us who are ‘Jesus Followers’, what did He say and do about conflict? Should you “Forgive and let it go” OR stand up, for yourself, to the other and “Confront the offender” Having the wisdom to know when confrontation is a Godly step toward resolution, and when it is not, is an important piece of the puzzle for all of us. Jesus Christ was not a ‘doormat’ or was He out to dominate others into doing things His way. So what did He teach about handling conflict?

We can all learn to handle conflict in healthy ways. If we have grown up in a home where conflict was a way of life, it might take us longer to find those healthy ways. Other who have learned to withdraw, to silently scream on the inside as others take from us, learning new ways will be a challenge.

….but that’s the purpose of this Blog. There are better and healthier ways to face the unavoidable crunch of wills, to find sanity in a world of conflict. However, it will take concentration and some practice to learn these skills. None of us was born learning how to ride a bike. It took a few painful falls for most of us to learn how. So it is with healthy conflict resolution. Please take heart though, there are better ways and you can learn how.

You will get out of this Blog what you put into it. We have packed this Blog with the treasures we have learned over 25 years as Counsellor, Mentors and Coaches. Maybe we know something about what we are presenting here?

Some people will skim read one or two posts and say ‘thanks and see ya’ later’. Hopefully you will be one of the people who stay around, read and then really go and practice. Otherwise, you are allowing this valuable information to ‘go in one ear and out the other’ without getting it into your heart. That’s where real change happens – with that ‘aha’ realisation.

Remember that old saying: ‘If you always do what you’ve always done….you’re always going to get, what you’ve always gotten’!

So let begin this journey together. Read the posts, try the practical worksheets and then go out into your world and ….practice….practice!

Susanne Fengler, Blog Author


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