5 Surprising Things That Cause Conflict
photo credit Jean Wimmerlin @jwimmerli
An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind – Mahatma Gandhi
We don’t want conflict and we usually hate the idea of arguments especially with those closest to us. Fighting makes us cringe at the thought and often (for a good many) brings back sad or traumatic memories of our years growing up as we remember conflicts in our homes and elsewhere. We vowed to ourselves that we would never be like that. For many, intense fighting between parents has left serious scars that they are terrified of opening up again and confronting.
Conflicts, heated discussions or ‘intense fellowships”- it does matter what we call them, conflict is conflict. We can’t live with people and we can’t live without them. People are the joy of our existence and sometimes the bane of our existence (we might think). None of us wakes up each morning thinking “Now how can I be disagreeable today”? “What can I do that will cause some conflict “? Of course not! But often we end up there anyway. So why is it that we end up in these situations. How do we go from being reasonably nice people to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde overnight?
The greatest conflicts are not between two people but between one person and himself –Garth Brooks
It’s Easier to Blame
Well, for one thing, it is very easy to blame others for our circumstances. How much easier is it to look outside ourselves for the source of the problem rather than face the demons within. We go on our own little “witch hunts” in an effort to paint the other person or people in a negative light. The more we try to convince them that they are wrong and we are right, the more heated the discussions become. We become defensive and protective of ourselves and our need to be right and completely ignore the fact that it “takes two to tango”.
It really is (we think) all about what the other person does or does not do and certainly not ourselves. The things they do, the things they say get on our nerves. “Why can’t they just get it”? we wonder. “Why are they always doing or saying annoying or stupid things”? When we are in close proximity to the “offending party”, such as our spouse or our children, the thermometer can shoot up higher and more frequently.
Pick battles big enough to matter, small enough to win.
– Jonathan Kozel
So, What Causes Conflict?
(1) We talk too much about ourselves, which also means we don’t listen. We are self-centered creatures. We want the attention to be on us (our problems, our accomplishments our ideas). We are so busy playing out our own life dramas and telling people about them that we sometimes don’t actually take the time to listen or be interested in what the other person has going on in their life.
Most of the time we just want an attentive audience. If we are busy talking about ourselves all the time, how can we possibly hear other people properly or even understand them? They just end up feeling that we don’t care and we can’t be trusted. Talking too much about ourselves turns people off and makes them want to find the nearest door to escape through. No one wants to spend an excessive amount of time around someone who is only focused on hearing his own voice.
(2) We overcorrect and criticize. Sometimes we spend more time telling others about their faults than we do working on ourselves. We judge others and, in doing so, it’s as if we have placed ourselves on a pedestal like we are in some way superior to them. It is easy to find fault in others, especially family members (parents?). But when we call out their shortcomings and criticize them, we are not helping them or thinking of their interests. What we really want is for them to see how right we are. It’s an ego thing.
No one is going to be happy when someone corrects or criticizes them. They will just get defensive and counter-attack, rebel or simply ignore you.
(3) We rank people. In our minds and often in our speech and body language, we send a message that some people are inferior to us in some way. We look down on them. We may put them in a category of being uneducated, lazy, or just less intelligent. We judge them by their lifestyle, by their habits, by their appearance and by the way they act. Sometimes just by looking at someone we immediately decide if that person is worth our time or not, if they are worth our friendship or not.
And, make no mistake, people sense our judging, our disdain, and our ranking. They see it in our eyes and facial expressions and other body languages.
(4) We are secretly jealous. Jealousy is not called the “green-eyed monster” for nothing. When we harbor jealous feelings, automatically we can not, at the same time, harbor benevolent feelings toward people we are jealous of. It is a heart problem. We don’t want them to succeed, to have fun, to be happy and our feelings of jealousy will come out through our words and actions towards them. Sometimes they have what we want or what we think should belong to us.. Jealousy will absolutely sabotage our relationships and cause conflict. We want the other person to be fully aware of how they have caused our jealousy “pity party”.
(5) We are not teachable. We resist admitting to our errors and learning from them. We resist feedback from others. In a sense, we maintain that we are right and all others are wrong. We reject help from others (even when we may clearly need it) and prefer to do things our own way. We may also imagine that others are “stupid” and don’t know what they are doing and are incompetent. We rely solely on our own understanding and reject any new information or feedback that could be helpful. Our pride prevents us from learning and growing.
Whenever you’re in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is attitude
– William James
Some Preventative Medicine
(1) Show grace. Give people the benefit of the doubt. Allow them space to be themselves and to be human. They don’t have to measure up to our expectations. It’s ok for them (and us) to make mistakes. If we want others to be understanding toward us, we need to be understanding toward them, Give them space to learn and to grow.
(2) Encourage. Accept, approve and appreciate, as Les Giblin explains in his book “How to Have Power and Confidence in Dealing with People“. We attract more bees with nectar than with vinegar. Be a good-finder and highlight the good things about others.
(3) Be a safe person. Be the kind of person that others feel comfortable going to (like an old slipper kind of person) without fear that you will put them down or blow your stack. Can they trust that you have not other agenda other than wishing to be authentic with you? When we are authentic and trustworthy, others can feel safe to be themselves too.
We are only as big as we make others feel and as small as we treat others. Conflict is simply the result of what we think about others and how we treat them as a result. There is no room for blaming or shaming because the root of the problem lies within our selves – our mind and our heart. Prevention and maintenance also reside there. If we focus on doing regular checkups with our own attitudes, we don’t have to worry too much about what others are doing.
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Diana Lynne’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, pursuing a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. Diana is a Quebec City girl. who loves living life. You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca
- November 13, 2019