We can’t avoid conflict. Every day there are hundreds of situations when people around us , including ourselves touch each other’s boundaries. And it creates interaction which in many cases ends with confrontation and conflict.
Confrontation, problems, and conflict are uncomfortable and we have to deal with them. We all need well-developed skills to handle and to enable conflict. The more skilful we become, the easier and more authentic our life will be. When we pretend that conflict doesn’t exist – we lie; when we avoid it, we simply postpone the problem and make it bigger.
Confrontation (definition): a hostile or argumentative situation or meeting between opposing parties. Synonyms: conflict, clash, brash, fight, battle, contest, encounter, head-to-head, face-off, engagement, tangle, skirmish, collision, meeting, duel, incident, high noon. Confrontation means to meet, to confront, to reinforce or contest any one of the many boundaries around us with our partners, children, neighbours, managers, co-workers, and even our best friends. The list can be endless.
When one of our boundaries (physical, mental, social, spiritual) reaches or breaches another’s person’s boundary, their confrontation happens. And the way we handle such a situation dictates where our life will be problem-free or problematic. I hope it will be helpful while you are reading this article to reflect a little bit on your personal experience.
Firstly, when your boundaries have been reached, breached or challenged, do you react or respond?
To respond means to answer, to reply, explain, to pay attention to what happened. It means to do something considered and thoughtful. To react is to act in response to the trigger, to exercise a similar effect on each other, to resist the action of another by an opposing effect. Again, to respond is to answer, which implies thinking. To react means immediately doing something without thinking or pause. Reacting and responding are not the same.
Unfortunately when people tend to react, often they end up re-acting, which means they react in the same way again and again. The picture of re-acting is a mindless repetitive drama: same words, same emotions, same expectations, same accusations, etc.
Secondly, do you choose to be co-operative, collaborative or competitive?
As a consequence, this choice creates problems which can be co-operative, collaborative or competitive.
Co-operation requires flexibility and tendency to find a solution when two boundaries meet.
Collaboration is required when we are working with somebody towards a common goal, and we are not necessarily friendly with him. A short definition of collaboration is “to work willingly with the enemy”.
Competition leads to big problems and incapacity to find common ground. It is a field where each participant fights a lot for his boundaries. It is a direct way to conflict, the father of all problems.
Conflict chain: competition, action, reaction, and chain reaction. What’s next? The WAR!
Your patterns of dealing with conflict can be learned, pattered or subconscious. If at this stage of your life they are dysfunctional, it means it’s time to reconsider them and build a new set of skills.Confrontation is the lifeblood of normality, says David Bogan. And I strongly recommend his book: “What’s keeping you awake all night?”
1. What’s keeping you awake all night, by David Bogan
2. Conflict Resolution for Couples, by Paul R. Shaffer
3. Communication Miracles for Couples: Easy and Effective Tools to Create More Love and Less Conflict, by Jonathan Robinson