I’ve written and used material from experts in the field of abuse. Not all abuse is physical and some of the most painful abuse is psychological and emotional. No matter the reason, no abuse is acceptable. Period.
I’m going to sidestep abuse and talk about conflict. Conflict is a part of life and despite my best efforts, I experience it probably more than I prefer.
I’ve found that my original conflict resolution style was to avoid. Someone would say something rude or hurtful and instead of confronting it, I would suffer silently. The result was illness such as migraines and ulcers and the person making the offense went on their merry way with no idea of the pain they caused (but sometimes they did). A larger consequence is that the conflict was not handled, I felt resentful, and the relationship suffered. Additionally, I set a pattern of behavior with people that indicated that I would accept their poor treatment of me. I often felt angry and exploited, but I had no one to blame for it but myself.
I found my behavior to be self destructive, and I was tired of feeling hurt so when a negative situation presented itself, I instead became a fighter and I fought hard. . No longer was I going to allow someone to treat me poorly and I was going to stay on my position no matter what. At times did I feel victorious? Sure, I did, but overall it was a win-lose result. And the truth is that at some level we both lost.
The best method of conflict resolution is to be a negotiator. The idea is that each party can express their concerns and needs and you both work through a method to resolve the conflict in a productive way, so each can get their needs met. It’s not as easy as it sounds. A key factor in communicating is using “I” language and not to disguise it in an insult or blame.
“I feel scared when you stay out late without calling because I’m worried you were in an accident.” (I feel expressing your emotion, when about a situation, because sharing your concern)
is better than…
“I feel like you have no regard for my feelings”. (blaming the other person for the situation)
It’s not easy. When emotions are strong and you feel hurt/betrayed/insulted/scared/rejected/ignored, it is easy to fall back into familiar patterns.
It’s also difficult if you are dealing with a person who refuses to apologize for the hurts they’ve caused you because in their mind, they are “just being honest”, but they disguise that “honesty” in insults.
There are other times where a person may tell us something that hurts, but deep in our hearts, we know it is true. Perhaps no one has ever had the courage to confront us on rude behavior or an unhealthy pattern. Has that ever happened to you? How did you respond? Did you lash out at them, return their comments with insults, ignore them, or acknowledge that what they are saying might be true?
You may still be hurt by what people have said, but if you desire to maintain the relationship, you both have to:
- negotiate better ways of resolving conflict,
- sincerely acknowledge and apologize if you have hurt the other person,
- make efforts not to fall into familiar, nonproductive ways to handle disagreements.
I’m not talking about abusive or violent relationships. If there is a pattern of unhealthy power and control or if you are involved in a primarily one-sided relationship then different decisions about furthering the relationship need to be made. Seeking assistance from a counselor or relationship coach would be beneficial, if not necessary.
This topic is for your friendships and relationships that are ordinarily healthy. Everyone experiences conflict. The key is that both parties have to be willing to work through it in a way that is not demeaning and that is fair.
If you both are not willing to do it, it won’t work, but if the relationship is worth it to you at all, then it makes sense to try. You may have to set your pride aside to do it. Ego and pride and killers of relationships. They get in the way of humility and healing. I’m known for being stubborn. It’s a trait that I’ve embraced and has been the foundation of many jokes with friends and family. However, I would never let my ego stop me from reconciling a relationship that was otherwise healthy (not including betrayals of honesty, fidelity, abuse, and respect). A trait I find most appealing in people, and one that I cherish and grow within myself, is one of humility.
However…if all else fails and you believe that you are sacrificing too much of yourself or if the other person chooses to end the relationship, then work through the process of grieving, learn and grow from it, and move on.
This is worth sharing… don’t you think?
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