Jan 28, 2009

Conflict: An Opportunity for Your Relationship to Grow!

Conflict is a disagreement, a clash, a quarrel, a fight between two or more people--family members, friends, coworkers and the like. It's the moment of truth in a relationship; a test of its health; a crisis that can weaken or strengthen it.

Conflicts can push people away from each other or pull them closer together. Whether it occurs at home, at school, at work, or elsewhere, most people hate conflict and avoid it at all costs. They pretend nothing is wrong. 

They do this because in their experience most conflicts end with someone winning and someone losing or both losing. People end up distant from each other. Sometimes they end up hating each other, or worse, physically hurting each other.

Few people accept that conflict is a natural part of life and not necessarily bad. Actually, it would be a rare relationship in which one person's needs did not conflict with the other's over a period of time. When any two people (or groups) coexist, conflict is bound to occur just because people are different, think differently and have needs and wants that sometimes don't match.

Conflicts can be about friends, spouses, coworkers, chores, money, etc. 

Conflict in a family, with friends, with spouses, coworkers, etc., openly expressed and accepted as natural and inevitable, can be far healthier than most people think. It can be useful in identifying problems which need to be solved. And it can bring about constructive changes in relationships.

Probably the most important factor in any relationship is how conflicts get resolved, not how many conflicts occur. How they get resolved determines to a great extent whether a relationship will be healthy or unhealthy, friendly or unfriendly, intimate or cold, deep or shallow.

Last week, we examined compromise as one way of resolving a conflict, and the damages it can do to a relationship when one person wins and the other person loses. Next week, we will examine how to resolve conflicts so that our relationships can grow stronger. 

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