All of my EOS clients have heard me exhort them at the beginning of our sessions to be open and honest. Open to new ideas and honest with each other about how we feel. I assure them that nobody has ever had their arm cut off as a result of doing so. Everyone nods their heads as if agreeing to my plea but in many cases it is done knowing full well that they won’t be as honest as they should be in the moment, in that session or back at their offices. Many choose to avoid conflict.
I came across a blog post on the subject of conflict avoidance. It is titled Culture: Grievance Counseling by Steve Almond. The main point he makes is “. . . the central reasons we avoid conflict have more to do with our doubts and inhibitions. We fear we will be rejected or humiliated if we stand up for ourselves. We fear we will hurt other people’s feelings. We worry about unleashing our aggression. We may lack confidence in our beliefs and values. Rather than face these feelings, we tell ourselves . . . that we are taking the high road”. Read the entire post here.
In other words we are all just human, but “But researchers tell us we should be more forthright about our feelings, even if this brings us into conflict with family or colleagues. Why? Because these interactions are much more likely to be constructive.”
I am witness to this phenomenon. In session with my EOS clients, I have seen emotions run high and people raise their voices, yell angrily, curse and even cry. And what happens? Almost always, if they attack the problem and not the person, the emotions released are cathartic. A dam is burst. The cess pool is drained. And invariably the session is rated very highly by all present.
How do I get better at dealing with conflict?
Like most valuable behaviors in life, speaking the truth in the meeting you are in is challenging but worth the while. You have to practice it. Start with family members or strangers, whichever seems less threatening to you. Start with small things, like saying no to requests to do things you don’t really enjoy or want to do. Work your way up from there. It won’t be easy but it will be worth the while.