“Oh, I don’t like conflict.”
“I avoid it at all costs.”
“Anything for a quiet life.”
For the person making these statements, there is a fear that conflict means anger, raised voices, relationships damaged forever and in some cases, even violence. So, there is no wonder they are never truthful about how they feel or about what they want. Neither will they disagree with a decision, or offer a view which is different from the person they are speaking to. They will allow themselves to be bullied and just go along with the status quo, which means they never get their needs met.
Except, for some, avoiding conflict will result in them being very manipulative and controlling so the message you get is,
“if you force me into conflict you will be sorry; I will punish you for the foreseeable future and withdraw from you. Also, if I am forced into a situation of conflict, I will become exceptionally angry (which will be completely over the top and out of character for me) and it will be your fault. You should feel guilty for driving me to this.”
However the avoidance manifests itself and one thing is for sure, it is not at all good or nurturing for any relationship with partners, family, friends, and colleagues.
Avoiding conflict often erodes into your relationships
If you are in a relationship with someone who avoids conflict, you will often be frustrated and feel burdened by resentment and anger, which can lead to depression. The reasons for this are simple: nothing ever gets discussed, everything is brushed under the carpet and you will often be met with defenses or a misunderstanding of what you are saying if you raise any sort of issue, even something simple like, “we need to discuss our finances”. And this increases the chances of conflict, which is, of course, the irony.
Often when this type of relationship appears in front of me in couple counselling, the one saying nothing have decided they want to leave the relationship as it appears their partner is often critical, angry and resentful. Really? I wonder why?
So how to resolve this is of course part of a deeper level of work in counselling but when we get to the point of reconnection the boundaries will be.
• Either partner can raise any issue
• The tonality of the voice should be even at all times
• Accept that there is no right or wrong so compromise comes into play
• Empathy for each other’s view
• Everyone has a valid point
• Come back to a topic if need be
• Discussion is not conflict
• Do not interrupt or talk over each other
Counselling can really help you to learn how to communicate more effectively and how to ensure both parties are heard without conflict. Learning to have a discussion and applying the boundaries will go long way to establishing a more fulfilling relationship.