In Your Language

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Overestimating the damage of conflicts

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Conflicts CAN have damaging effects on relationships. Their potential for harm does warrant using caution in those situations. But potential does not necessarily predict disaster... our past is a better predictor of disaster than what is inherent in conflict. The lie is that we apply the words "always" and "never" to things that are by all means dynamic and not static whatsoever. Conflicts on inevitable so we need to be prepared for them rather than be ready to run.

When we run away from conflict we are turning away from a relationship, or at the very least, the opportunity to forge a new level of intimacy and relational growth. We cannot know the strength of a sword without testing it out. We cannot claim we have a good relationship if we haven't put it to the test... through conflicts.

Conflicts also have potential for breakthroughs and revelations. They CAN strengthen relationships just as much as they CAN destroy them. Conflicts are bad to the degree we do not turn them into an  open forum... allowing for imperfection... allowing for transparency. We can build trust with each other by knowing that we CAN get through conflicts and not getting obliterated in the process.

Perhaps we need to stage conflicts rather than letting them sneak up on us. We can use them as situations where we can learn about each other and honor each others point of view without demonizing each other. Conflicts can reveal points of vulnerability and pain in our loved ones. Using that knowledge and intimacy can reinforce our relationships while whittle away at our fears.

Conflicts are necessary because we cannot meet all of our needs on our own. They are an inevitable part of being in relationship with another person. We can say yes to part of a request; we can concede to part of someone's subjective experience. It doesn't have to be all or nothing. One thing I learned in my International Relations (IR) class is that IR is most defined by the conflicts and resolutions (assuming there are some) between countries. It's time that we harness our inner power for better PR with our fellow man; or at least to know which ones need improvement.

UPDATED: 4/4/14

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