Conflict. As Fozzie Bear said in The Muppet Movie (1979), it seems ‘we can’t live with [it] and we can’t live without [it].’ It’s an interminable thing that both marks us “human” and dogs us. Families, particularly, are plagued with this rogue phenomenon much more than they’d otherwise wish—trapped in co-existing, at times, in a home ‘not big enough’ for the amount of space that their combined number (and their respective egos) require.
So, how do we rationalise this hell-hole situation; the time of rampant loathing and the desire for dispersion. Well, it probably helps to know that if one person’s feeling alien to this team called the ‘family unit,’ others will be feeling similar, if not the same. After all, it’s not just about us, is it?
It’s funny that conflict is such a ‘necessary’ part of life when it need not be. Conflict for the large part could be jettisoned provided we have mature attitudes toward issues of conflict, adequate self-awareness and self-management, and time and space for those others involved—seeing their viewpoints, and not simply our own. Sounds a lot like emotional intelligence to me.
Conflict can only best be addressed when:
1. Both/all people party to the conflict are mature enough to process the stimuli that angers or upsets them;
2. Both/all parties enter the conflict emotion-free, ready to listen to the other party and learn. Stephen Covey said, ‘Seek first to understand, and then be understood.’
a. Genuine empathy mixed with managed and controlled emotions in those party to the dispute or issue goes a long way to quick, effective resolution.
3. People stop trying to sort the issue/s out if one or both/all begin getting upset; further harm, anger, resentment and hurt is inevitable if we try to solve disputes when clouded emotionally.
Conflict pretty much spells the death knell for peace if anger and negative emotions are not processed. And just how are they processed? Well, that’s a whole other topic deserving of scholarly books.
Remember that a vast number of conflicts in the life begin, and continue over, very small, trifling issues—issues that given a right, logical mind, and a more complete understanding, we’d almost laugh off. But, most of the time conflicts rise due to more insidious issues—driven, at times, deep from the subconscious mind, generating feelings buried deep within the heart.
Let’s commit to never sweating the small stuff—bear in mind, nearly everything in life is small stuff. And if it’s small stuff that’s pushing us over the edge, let’s ask ourselves if there’s a little more to it deeper down.
© S. J. Wickham, 2009.