“Oh No, a brouhaha!!”
“Oh No, a brouhaha !!”
One of our great challenges in life is coping the inevitable clashes which occur in our relationships whether it’s with our spouse, best friend, relatives, co-workers, or boss; it could be with anyone. Unfortunately, most of us deal with conflict by not dealing with it. We usually try to avoid it altogether denying or minimizing it, “It’s no big deal” or writing it off as hopeless, “nothing I say is going to make any difference”. Frances Eason in her study on nurses and interpersonal conflict found that 75% of nurses and nurse managers use avoidance to deal with conflict.
The problem is, it’s impossible to come to any resolution at all, even within yourself, through avoidance because you’re not really avoiding it, you’re just pushing it down inside. The thoughts and emotions connected with the discord remain within you and affect your mood and behavior. Think about a situation during which you became highly frustrated with an individual and did not talk it through with them. Be honest, haven’t your attitude and behaviors changed toward that person? Aren’t you less relaxed and spontaneous around them? And when you think about them don’t you immediately think about the conflict, have negative feelings and try to avoid them? Your feelings shape your behavior (verbal and non-verbal) then your behaviors reinforce your thoughts which further solidify your feelings and on it goes.
I can almost hear you saying: “But dealing with conflict is so hard; I just hate it!”
It’s true, it is really hard. Almost everyone hates dealing with conflict, you feel vulnerable. It’s hard to predict how the other person will respond if you try to talk with them; what if they get angry and retaliate, refuse to acknowledge you or even make fun of you? Besides, you think to yourself, “The other person probably isn’t going to change their behavior no matter what I say to them”. The thing is not addressing the conflict hurts you, it leaves you feeling like a victim, angry or even resentful which feels miserable and is unhealthy. By addressing the situation, you are taking a strong and mature step in laying groundwork for a better relationship. The most important benefit of your effort however; regardless of how the other person responds, is that it will help shift you out of victim mentality and negative feelings.
How do you go about it? Keep your eye out next week for a tried and true method to address conflict.
Eason, Frances R., Brown, Sylvia T., “Conflict Management: Assessing Educational Needs”. Journal for Nurses in Staff Development: May/June 1999, (15) 3, 92-6