Skip to content

Conflict? 3 Choices. Choose one.

February 26, 2018

Conflict is so insidious.

It seeps into a relationship and from then on everything said is interpreted negatively.

We ascribe negative connotations to any words or actions by the other. No one can win for losing and matters escalate.

This is when people need to step back and take stock. This is when people need to examine their own ego.

Some would say they must set the record straight and correct every perceived transgression. The thinking is that this is better than leaving things lie. Not true though. By seeking to set the record straight or correct the misperception of the other, one’s actions are still only perceived as a transgression. When in conflict, no one wants to be corrected or told they are wrong. Setting the record straight becomes the objective as the real issue of concern is forgotten.

How to release oneself from this circular and ever escalating quagmire? Several choices:

  1. Withdraw. Recognize that in this conundrum, there is no such thing as the last word. Leave it alone. Let it go. Separate your own ego from the conflict and the other. Your worth is not dependent on the other agreement with your point of view.
  1. Empathize. While suspending your emotions for the moment, key into the emotion of the other. Be curious. Wonder what is going on and how they perceive things. Open up the dialogue if only from their perspective. Again, keep your ego in check. As you hear more about the other, their views, issues and concerns, you may learn more and they feel heard This releases tension and opens up the possibility for a reconciliation of views and the relationship.
  1. Mediate. Some differences require a third party to keep things safe and act as an emotional translator while keeping and eye on the substantive issues of concern. The mediator can funnel the information between persons to help facilitate delivery and reception in a way that may lose the taint of conflict. The mediator can help persons determine and address the underlying issues of concern rather than getting caught up in the sidetracking nature of misperceptions and projections of blame and shame. This process may help resolve not only the issue at hand, but may also help restore some semblance of a relationship, if only a working relationship.

Key with either strategy is managing one’s own ego – that need for validation and approval – to be right and respected. When in conflict those things go out the door and depending on ones own internal sense of security, one can be quite fragile. So the real challenge in managing and overcoming conflict is more about mustering a sense of personal validation.

Say to yourself: “I am fine regardless of what I perceive the other to think about me, my views and/or this situation. This conflict doesn’t define me. Let it go and if possible, address what is really important.

Managing oneself and ones ego is the real secret to living with or overcoming conflict with whichever strategy you choose.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by Skype.

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW for counseling and support – to build your successful practice

facebook-logo   linked-in-logo   twitter-logo

Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas and Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: