Dealing With Conflict and Confrontation: Should You Jump In or Run Away?
I spent hours and hours looking at my computer and what I was writing, not knowing if it was good, mediocre or plainly unhelpful for readers. I was hoping that through my article, I would be able to give a list of advice while reflecting on how to deal with conflict given my personal experiences. Because what I was trying to convey to people was the magical recipe to solve all the conflictual issues in their lives - and guess what: that is not happening.
My personal experiences can help me through conflict in the sense that I can use what has happened to me before to build on it and move on. Trying not to repeat the errors of the past. Coming out more mature from a tricky situation… These are beautiful thoughts. And they can reveal themselves to be true! But the past will not prevent you from facing difficulties in the future. Only next time, you can count on your experience to change your perspective on the problem and mobilize new mechanisms to improve the situation.
At first, I thought refusing to fight and looking away would prevent me from getting into conflict with people. Staying neutral would preserve my relationships. Guess what? This strategy is only about shielding yourself from reality. Conflict is inevitable in life. You cannot avoid it or push it away.
Of course, they are many different forms of conflict: some are unhealthy, ridiculous, undesired, born for the wrong reasons… Others are what is actually required to improve a situation not as ideal as it can be.
Conflict can help you to finally move on, to get better, to confront someone. That someone may even be yourself!
There is not one way to react when facing conflict because it will always be different depending on the situation and the people involved. But some advice is always good to take as I hope it is applicable in most cases.
The main lesson I learned from past confrontations is to preserve yourself. What people often go for is winning the battle or the whole war. They want to dominate the opponent because it makes them feel better or because they feel in their right to do so.
But self-preservation is the key and will be extremely helpful in the long-run. Do not mistake me: I am not encouraging people to become selfish and to think only about their own interests. People should preserve themselves in the sense that they should try and moderate the situation as much as possible. Not letting it escalate, avoid making it worse than it could be. Not letting it become toxic.
What are other useful principles when interacting with others, particularly when arguing with someone? Empathy and listening skills are crucial to understanding the other person’s point of view. Communication is also very important: relationships are a two-way street. As much as you are able to listen, you should be listened to. And respect: it is the basis of any human interaction, or, at least, it should be.
When to say stop?
Sometimes, leaving is not accepting defeat. Giving up on something or someone is not a failure. Some situations do not have ideal solutions, and they become too much to live with.
Stop. We are not able to find common ground.
Stop. This is going nowhere.
Stop. People are getting hurt.
Stop. This is not healthy.
You have to choose your battles. Some things are good to fight for. Others will not bring you any positive outcome. Only you can decide when to fight for something and when to let go, but where I draw the line is always the same: what I put above all are my health and happiness, as they have been and will always be prior to the current problems at hand.