Family reunions and neighborhood barbecues are meant to be fun gatherings. The combination of crowds, heat and frenetic planning, however, can also be stressful. Tensions can erupt into conflict. As we often point out in our articles, nobody really loves conflict. That being said, those of us in the conflict management field will tell you avoidance isn’t usually the best approach. People dodge conflict when they don’t have the skills to effectively engage. Boundary-setting is one of those skills. In fact, setting boundaries can actually improve relationships.
A client recently asked me for some strategies to engage in conflict without appearing angry. As I’ve said in previous articles, it’s no secret that most people fear conflict and will go to great lengths to avoid it. Managing our anger can be challenging at times. Most people either become defensive or worse, they’re boiling internally while trying to appear calm. Skilled mediators develop practical strategies to avoid being pulled into the emotional whirlpool of our clients’ conflicts.
Very few of us engage in conflicts with confidence and ease. In fact, most people fear conflict. Conflict avoiders are all around us. So are conflict magnets, or people who seem to thrive on drama and conflict. They don’t stir things up because they enjoy conflict. Typically, they’re not skilled at engaging appropriately in conflict, and internal triggers fuel actions that inflame conflicts. Conflict isn’t typically in anyone’s comfort zone, but there are strategies to help us be more resilient in conflicts.