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Being Careless or Care Less in Conflict

We know that conflict has the potential for bringing out negativity in us when we are in dispute with another person. What form and shape that takes varies, of course, and depends in large part on our individual ways of coping, the circumstances, who the other person is, and the history with her or him. Negativity that erupts in any case seems to increase as we become more and more entrenched and the certainty about our rightness and the other person’s wrongness prevails. We may be careless with her or his feelings and care less about what happens. At least, that is how interactions saturated with anger and other emotions may be perceived.

Exploring ‘careless’ a little further, we often think of being careless as sloppy, non-attentive, and unthinking. Several definitions from are: 1) Taking insufficient care; negligent; 2) Marked by or resulting from lack of forethought or thoroughness; 3) Showing a lack of consideration; and 4) Unconcerned or indifferent; heedless.

By the same token, I think ‘care less’ (as two words) denotes a similar though more emotional meaning. That is, it is typical that our caring about the other person and the relationship appears to decrease as our disparate views dominate and the interaction deteriorates into harsh words, or no words. We may care less about what we say and how we say it. We may ignore the other person. We may even care less about our dignity and self-respect when we choose to communicate and act in mean-spirited ways – though we may not be aware that our words and actions reflect on us in this way.

This week’s ConflictMastery™ Quest(ions) blog invites readers to examine your carelessness and care lessness in a dispute that is currently underway.

  • Thinking about a specific conflict, in what ways are you being careless?
  • What does it feel like to be careless in the ways you describe?
  • What is motivating your carelessness?
  • In what ways does the notion of care less also apply to you and/or your reactions in the conflict?
  • What is motivating that?
  • If you were to be careful instead of careless, what would that look like?
  • What would that feel like to be careful in those ways?
  • What difference may it make to the relationship if you were careful in the ways you just described?
  • What difference may it make regarding the issues in dispute if you were careful in the ways you described?
  • As you think about it here, what do you care about most right now in relation to this conflict?

What other ConflictMastery™ Quest(ions) may you add here?

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