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.
In my early 20s, I wasn’t interested in school violence prevention. I had big ideas about contributing to world peace. After serving in the Peace Corps, I worked on a Master’s in international development, focused on conflict resolution. This was in the early 90s, before “Columbine” was associated with a high school massacre. An internship in the heart of America changed my worldview.
Most of us rely on auto-correction software, but how often do people check messages for conflict-inducing digs? You know what I mean, the ones that hit below the belt. They’re loaded with passive-aggressive undercurrents of sarcasm. They’re discounting, insulting or disrespectful. They blame or deflect responsibility. They triangulate, lack compassion, strike a nerve, etc. Even when the sender denies the intention of harm, knee-jerk messaging, particularly when sent electronically, can escalate quickly into drama and conflict, often with harmful consequences.