Overcoming the Fear of Conflict
Aya Fubara Eneli, M.A., J.D.
AYA ENELI INTERNATIONAL
Many of us go through life attempting to avoid any and all conflict. But like attempting to cross a field full of landmines, choosing to ignore rather than deal with conflict is potentially harmful to your overall well-being.
Think about it. How often are you riddled with anxiety over an unresolved matter? Have you ever lost any sleep fretting about how to avoid a specific person or challenge? Does it seem like people typically ignore your feelings and take advantage of your peaceful tendencies? Have you become more resentful over the years?
Parents hoping to keep ‘peace’ with their children ignore the obvious and sweep issues under the proverbial rug. Spouses bury their heads in the stand regarding pertinent issues and wonder why there is no intimacy in their marriage. Supervisors and team leaders dismiss conflict and hope it will just go away.
All eventually are tripped up by the same issues they chose to ignore when the issues were still manageable. We often think that peace is the absence of conflict, but the truth is that there is always the potential for conflict and peace actually reigns when we choose to lovingly and honestly address any contentious issues. A wise man once said, “Most people fail to reach their potential because they are afraid of conflict. Learn to ace conflict head on and identify resolutions to the conflict and you will always be valuable.”
Dorothy Thompson stated, “Peace is not the absence of conflict but the presence of creative alternatives for responding to conflict — alternatives to passive or aggressive responses, alternatives to violence.”
So why then are so many averse to addressing conflict? Ozie Zehner posits that peace requires greater bravery than does conflict. It requires no wisdom or discipline to engage in conflict, but resolving conflicts on the other hand, requires superior problem solving and leadership skills.
Do you find yourself often avoiding conflict or potentially contentious matters? Begin to train yourself to be an expert at resolving versus avoiding conflicts by doing the following:
Pay attention to your feelings and embrace conflict as a means for advancing understanding as opposed to harboring fear and retaliating in cowardly ways;
When you state your concerns, be as specific as possible so that the other person is clear on the issue and the possible solutions;
Don’t assume you know the facts and you are right. Listen to understand the other person’s point of view;
Initiate conversations to clear the air;
Try not to judge the other person based on their past;
Look beyond the angry words or gestures for the real issues;
Think win/win and identify possible solutions;
Own your part in the conflict and be big enough to apologize;
Follow through on your commitments.
Iron sharpens iron. A certain amount of friction is actually necessary for movement. Begin today to overcome your fear of conflict and observe the increase of peace in your life come what may. I wish you an abundant life.
Join Aya at the Women’s Abundant Life Retreat on May 3-5, 2012 in Belton, Texas. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.ayaeneli.com. Aya Fubara Eneli is a best-selling author, life coach, motivational speaker and columnist.