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.
Several years ago I had a conversation with a mediator colleague about honesty. We agreed that, despite media sensation and police warnings, people usually do the right thing. Deceit takes far more energy than honesty. I’ve been around the world and find most people do not choose to live with conflict, mistrust and deceit. Humans have an innate desire for peace. Truthfulness preserves harmony. So, why do we assume the worst in people?
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.