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“Avoidance is the best short-term strategy to escape conflict, and the best long-term strategy to ensure suffering.” Brendon Burchard

We all have ways that we manage conflict that we have learned over time. It is often the case that one of our conflict management styles seems to be dominant and reflects the default approach we take under stress if we’re not careful. Our way of engaging in interpersonal conflict* of course, depends on who the person is and what we are experiencing from the interaction with them. The timing, our mood at the time, our overall well-being, the impact of the dispute on us and other factors all enter in to determine how we interact and respond.

Avoiding conflict is one choice we have and sometimes it works as a good short-term approach. However, we avoid conflict to our detriment because avoiding conflict can leave a void of ongoing unresolved and unreconciled feelings and issues.

If we face conflict head on, the result may be a resolution of the issues, or a better understanding of what happened, or reconciliation of the relationship. However, we don’t know that at the time things begin to escalate or, if the outcome will meet our hopes and needs. The unknown can create unsettled feelings that support any tendency to avoid. Examining when and why we avoid conflict is a helpful exercise in the quest for conflict mastery. Here are this week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) about this topic.

  • Under what circumstances do you avoid conflict?
  • What is it about these circumstances that results in your decision to avoid conflict?
  • What do you gain from avoiding conflict at these times that you haven’t yet mentioned?
  • What are the disadvantages for you when you avoid?
  • What are the upsides for the other person when you avoid the conflict? What are the downsides for them?
  • What emotions do you experience about yourself when you avoid conflict? What are you feeling about the other person at these times?
  • What other approach or approaches to conflict may work more effectively for you rather than avoiding?
  • In what way(s) would that work better for you?
  • How would that or those ways work for the other person?
  • What may concern you about taking this approach?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

*Violent conflict is not being considered here


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