It’s hard to resolve conflict when the real issues cannot be brought to the table.  The catch is that the only way for the issues to be resolved is if both parties feel that it is safe to bring their actual concerns up and share their authentic feelings.

However, with it being a difficult situation in the first place, creating the notion of ‘safety’ would be more challenging than usual since it resembles ‘the chicken and the egg’ phenomenon in the sense that presence of conflict would tend to ‘scare’ the notions of safety out of the picture.

When we were much younger, there’s a pervasive feeling of bravery in the sense that we feel that we can express how we really feel openly without too much worries about the consequences.  As experiences teach us better and we get hurt somewhere along the way, we learn to be cautious–and sometimes too cautious for our own good.

We then engage in denial, misplaced diplomacy, and/or conflict avoidance–proverbially sweeping the issue “under the rug” so to speak and before we know it, the relationship is cracking at the seams… Then, we are not only forced to deal with the conflict at hand, but also address the issues which have burst forth.

There is a certain tendency to want to please our partner or keep the harmony and while this does make for peace and quiet, it is also unhealthy in the sense that when we do not address our authentic feelings, we end up getting a raw deal, when all we need to do is be a bit more brave in bringing up the issues while at the same time being mindful about how we phrase our concerns.

It goes without saying that being accusatory and unnecessarily abrasive would be counterproductive and would just make the situation worst.   At the same time, being too meek and ‘safe’ with phrasing things would be ineffective and would cause us to be a ‘doormat’ in varying degrees.  A certain balance would have to be struck as we open our mouths to speak, compose an e-mail, SMS, or chat reply.

Being able to effectively get the point across firmly and diplomatically would be recommended. It takes time and practice, but as long as one or both of the people in the relationship does not throw in the towel and walk away, it can be achieved.  It is with real communication and conflict resolution that the foundation of respect can be built… And with this foundation, a good relationship can blossom and prosper, considering all other factors in the relationship are suitable.

Before all the dialogue can take place though, it is pertinent that we make it clear to our partner that it is safe for them to share their thoughts with us… that we won’t attack them or make them feel guilty for bringing up their concerns. Without this safety net, communication and conflict resolution would be precarious at best.

(c) Niconica 2011*

*does not apply to image/s

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