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Hurts in Conflict

One of the reasons many of us have an aversion to conflict is because it has the potential for hurts – ours and others. In fact, it seems to be where our mind goes first when the possibility of a conflict looms – to the possibility of being hurt or hurting – and to the possibility the relationship will also suffer.

It takes self-awareness, courage and the desire to have authentic connections with others to initiate conversations that we believe may have an adverse impact on the other person and the relationship. Similarly, it takes these ingredients to receive and respond to others’ messages that hurt us. The serious consideration to make, however, is that the accumulation of hurtful interactions that are not raised undoubtedly take their toll in ways that stand to cause undue inner hurt.

Over time, the ties that bind us to people in our lives can wither without the honesty that conflict can engender (as counterintuitive as that may seem). We stand to lose the closeness, caring, respect and intimacy that comes with sharing what is important to us and hearing what is important to the other person, even if it surprises, disappoints and hurts. The relationship can otherwise end up being superficial – lacking in the depth of understanding and truthfulness that builds enduring relationships.

If you are afraid of raising an issue because you fear hurting the relationship and the other person, consider these reflective questions.

  • What is the situation?
  • What are you wondering about saying or doing that you believe may hurt the other person?
  • In what ways might the relationship be hurt if you say or do that (your answer to the previous question)?
  • What does hurt mean in this context?
  • In what ways may not saying or doing what you are thinking hurt the relationship?
  • How might not saying or doing what you have in mind be hurtful for you?
  • In what ways might saying or doing the hurtful comment(s) or deed(s) ultimately be helpful to the other person? To you?
  • What are the positive intentions behind the comment(s) and deed(s) you are considering? What is (or are) your need(s) under those intentions?
  • How might the potentially hurtful comment(s) or deed(s) be framed in a way that is or are consistent with your positive intentions?
  • What request may you make of the other person that reflects your intentions and needs?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

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