Louise Thompson
Inspirational advice to rock your life with energy, passion, happiness and balance.

Louise Thompson: When not to avoid conflict

What we allow we are actually endorsing. Photo / Thinkstock
What we allow we are actually endorsing. Photo / Thinkstock

This is hands-down one of the most common reasons I see that people are unhappy. That they are tolerating something crappy in their life. Crappy exploitative relationship with co-worker.

Crappy loveless marriage. Getting no support with chores in the home. Not being spoken to with respect.

These crappy things get put up with because "I don't like conflict" trumps speaking up, so the situations continue.

And continue. And continue. And we wait for the crappy thing to just magically resolve itself.

Well. Here's the thing. If you don't like how someone else is treating you it is YOUR job, YOUR responsibility to voice that, whether you "like" conflict or not. If you give your power away by expecting THEM to notice, and THEM to change their behaviour by mind reading that you are unhappy you are effectively ENDORSING being treated like crap. Your avoidance of dealing with it because you "don't like conflict" is like giving that behaviour a stamp of approval.

What we allow we are actually endorsing.

What do you need to know about conflict? Well, firstly that when we voice our boundaries ("You know, that's really not okay for me, I would like you to give me the correct paperwork on time if I am going to fulfil that order for you efficiently") we often expect conflict but in reality we don't get it.

This situation is resolved without the expected conflict ever actually occurring.

("Really? I am so sorry I put you under pressure, I'll make sure I get it to you on a Tuesday in future.")

Secondly, conflict isn't necessarily a bad thing. It clears the air, it re-establishes boundaries, and it can bring people much closer. We can often avoid conflict because we are scared of losing love or approval. This is counterintuitive as actually when we are clearer in what is and is not okay for us it's easier for people to meet those needs. We become less complicated beings who are actually easier to love.

Thirdly, you can disagree with someone and still love them! You don't both have to think the same about everything at all times. You are not clones. You have separate minds and it's okay to use them.

Fourthly, and this one really gets me going, is, if you are PAID to be in a position of authority at work then the reason you get the medium bucks to the big bucks is because handling difficult conversations occasionally IS PART OF YOUR JOB. Being liked by all the people all the time is not. You are paid the bigger dollars to stand up and say what needs to be said, whether it is to give an honest performance review or protect a junior member of staff from bullying. It's. Your. Job. So do it.

Fifthly, and I think most importantly, is this. When I hear someone tolerating something crappy in their life hiding behind the limiting belief "I don't like conflict", I think ... well sure honey, who the hell does? Okay there are a few shouty people out there like Gordon Ramsay and Simon Cowell who appear to thrive on conflict, (and it certainly makes for great TV) but in the real world, real people, normal life, who does enjoy conflict? That's like saying "I don't enjoy the dentist".

OF COURSE YOU DON'T! Who does? But you still go to get your teeth cleaned and checked every now and again, don't you? It's an essential body maintenance part of life.

You suck it up and you do it. Do you look forward to it? No. Does it feel good when you leave and you can feel that clean teeth extra gappy feeling? Yes, of course it does. It feels clean. It feels right.

A little conflict is part of life. It's part of a healthy and happy life. So, if there is an intolerable situation in your life, stand up and voice what you are unhappy about, and what you would like to change. That's not conflict, that's just being a responsible, grown-up human being.

Action step

Is there a situation in your life you are continuing to tolerate because you are hiding behind "I don't like conflict"? Be brave. Identify it and take a step, even a baby step, forwards to rectify it. Remember, what you allow you are endorsing, so speak up!

Louise Thompson is a life coach, yoga teacher and corporate escapee. For more from Louise visit positivebalance.co.nz

- NZ Herald

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