Women have a tendency to be conflict avoiders. Of course there are big (and memorable) exceptions.
You don’t want to be either one of these people because, in the long run, neither extremes will be productive for you or the other party.
Womens’ passivity in conflict is complicated. We are socialized to be cooperative and to be pleasers. In addition, if we do veer off this role, there can be big societal consequences. B-I-T-C-H. Luckily, I think the current generations are moving away from this more and more. But, the fear of conflict remains.
Fear of conflict is a theme I hear repeatedly with friends, colleagues, and with my clients in therapy.
It is totally okay to be fearful of conflict. Sometimes, the fears come from our upbringing, where conflict was a no-no or, oppositely, conflict flew out-of-control. However, just because you fear something doesn’t mean there is really anything out there to fear. Feelings are not facts and every relationship will have conflict.
To help empower, let’s review ways to resolve conflict.
What is conflict?
Usually, it is a situation where there is a disagreement or a perceived threat to one’s needs or issues.
Try to avoid dealing with conflict by:
- Being passive. This means not dealing with the issue by stuffing feelings and avoiding that person or situation.
- Being aggressive. This means being dominating. When you raise your voice during a discussion, make threats, use sarcasm, or make jabs at a person’s character, you are being aggressive.
Guides to communication during conflict: (This is pulled directly from 12-Step literature, and I like it — very useful.)
- Discuss, don’t attack.
- Keep voice low and pleasant.
- Stick to the subject.
- Don’t make demands.
- Stop talking.
- Listen to the other person’s point of view.
- Look, act and be interested.
Conflict resolution should be a respectful interchange with resolution at the end. To help get you to resolution, review areas where you both agree. It is okay to say that you want the other person to soften their tone if they are getting loud or aggressive. Sometimes, just take a deep breath if you or they are getting “too worked up” to be respectful. Then, make requests with an “I would like to request that we….”
If you can’t come to an agreement right then, it is okay to table the resolution. However, don’t run off saying, “Just forget it. I can’t deal with this right now.” Better to say, “Right now, we are struggling to find agreement. Let’s table this and resume it again tomorrow when we have both had time to think on it more.”
Conflict is a part of life. Please accept that and look for each conflict as an opportunity to practice your conflict resolution skills.
Photo credit: NabzIsALamb