I truly hate conflict. Not just a little. A mountain-size disdain for it. It is right up there with root canals and the Boston Red Sox. Yes, that much!
Having said that, I recognize that it is a part of life. As members of the human species, conflict in various forms is bound to arise. Misunderstanding, poor communication, terrible decisions, selfishness, and thoughtlessness are just a few of the seemingly endless number of reasons for the presence of conflict.
Over this past year, I have managed in spite of myself, to actually make some degree, a fractional amount, of progress in this area. Mind you, there is an endless road still ahead, but it is a good feeling nevertheless, to move at least an inch or 2 in a healthier direction. How, you may ask?
By taking punches.
Not quite the answer you were expecting, was it.
In my experiences, the main reason for conflict is the choice we make not to be brave. We do or say something stupid, then compound the issue by refusing to take responsibility for it. At best, we take the “easy” way out by perhaps sending an impersonal text or email. At worst, we simply avoid the matter altogether. In other words, we choose to be less of who are we really are. We choose to be weak.
When taking strikes, we have to be brave. There is no other choice. It is a tough, physical experience. Painful even. It is also a great opportunity to practice being brave in a safe environment.
Being brave does not mean we are not afraid. In fact, more often than not, it is exactly the opposite. Bravery does not mean just saving the kid from a car barreling down the road toward her, or pulling the puppy out of a burning building. Sometimes it is as simple as doing something beneficial no one else is willing to do. It is having the guts to stand up and go it in a different direction from the crowd.
Cowardice is not the opposite of bravery. Conformity is.
Brave individuals are not fearless. They have simply found some issue that matters more to them than the fear. They are afraid and do it anyway.
Find the greater meaning and you will find your courage. Find your courage and you find the near absence of conflict as well.
Next time a conflict arises, deal with it face to face with all the fearlessness you can muster, even if is the size of a pebble.
If you feel you cannot, just keep taking strikes. You will find your courage.