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Let's Talk Conflict

We need to talk about conflict. Conflict is something that society has learned to fear, to avoid at all costs. We have been taught that conflict is inherently bad, that there isn't a way to come away from it in a healthy way. And that simply isn't true. Conflict, by definition, is a difference of opinion or a disagreement, two things that happen daily. Where we run into issues is the thought that a disagreement has to become an argument, which has to end in a volatile manner. And without the concept of conflict acceptance, that is the outcome. So what do we do?

The first thing is acknowledging what conflict acceptance is. Take it at the base level of definition, it is accepting that conflict is something that occurs and accepting that conflict is two different thoughts facing each other. A good example of conflicting thoughts is the age old debate of "does pineapple belong on pizza?" (It does by the way). The different ways that people feel about that are conflicting thoughts, therefore conflict is created. Now, I'm not going to say that there haven't been many heated conversations about this very topic, as food lovers have very strong opinions about food, but the conversations are able to be walked away from without trauma and harm. The reason this can happen is because there's the recognition that the topic can be discussed, people will feel differently, and they can walk away from the conversations. It is the acceptance that conflicting thoughts exist. 

Conflict acceptance does what conflict avoidance doesn't allow, and that is making strides towards conflict resolution. When the first thought about conflict is to avoid it, the chance to express what you're feeling and thinking is diminished. And being unable to express those feelings and thoughts creates resentment, because those thoughts and feelings have no where to go, causing you to hold on to them, keeping them inside and allowing them to fester. Conflict acceptance also leaves room for a result of conflict resolution simply being that feelings are expressed and moving on. Conflict resolution does not have to end in parties suddenly agreeing on everything, it simply creates space for the feelings to be expressed. For the feelings to be expressed and acknowledged, and give the chance for understanding.

Conflict isn't inherently bad, it is a conversation. It is communication. And it is important and intentional, because it allows voices to be heard. It creates space for growth and even healing. Allow yourselves to experience conflict. Accept its reality, and embrace the opportunities for resolution, and to learn the different ways that resolution can look. 

Comments

  1. Yes!! I'm a teacher and I used to view conflicts in the classroom as an interruption to be dealt with quickly so we could move on with learning. Now I try to remember that modeling how to navigate conflict in a healthy, respectful way IS the learning that needs to happen in that moment.

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