When You Should Avoid Conflict

Before I begin let me first say that when I speak about conflict in this article I am referring to any interaction where there are opposing viewpoints. Also, I do not consider conflict as negative.  Now that is out of the way let me begin.

Timing is everything and sometimes it may not be the time or place to address that issue that is likely to create a conflict. Yup! I did say that there are times that you should avoid conflicts. Let me first say that I am an advocate for healthy conflict because in my experience such conflict can create a sense that each person in the conflict is free to grow while building a common collective agenda that is also good for all parties in the relationship.

However before one engages in a potential conflict, remember one important thing. When an individual react negatively in a conflict it is because of a feeling of disrespect not necessarily directly because of what you said or did. Therefore in any conflict the MOST important thing is to maintain respect. Individuals will respond positively to far more if they feel respected. What should be respected? I contend that there are three things to be respected when choosing to engage in or avoid a conflict:

  • Respect the person’s physical time. Ensure that the time chosen to engage in the conflict is agreed upon time. For example the persons may decide to meet at 2 pm.
  • Respect the person’s environment. Choose a place to engage in the conflict that fosters feelings of respect (not on the factory room floor in front of others)
  • Be sensitive to the emotional time. Ensure that there is not an issue so emotionally draining going on in the person’s life that would distract them or increase their defensiveness when dealing with the proposed conflict.

In any conflict the parties involved want something for their effort. My contention is that if there is a focus on respecting others and an implementation of the three points I proposed we all can avoid conflict until it is most appropriate to engage.

CarlosTodd, PhD

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