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Dealing with conflict

People who avoid conflicts believe that conflict is negative, so they steer clear of it.  An avoider is akin to a turtle that pulls his head into his shell and denies that the conflict exists.  Avoiders also change the topic when someone attempts to engage them in the resolution process, or they ask noncommittal questions, such as “What do you think?”    

Unfortunately, avoiding conflicts will not make them go away. Decisions are made by default, issues go unresolved, and creative energy is zapped.  The avoider’s needs are neglected, and they do not give relationships opportunities to grow and develop.  When used all the time, avoidance leads to self-doubt and low self-esteem.     

There are, however, situations when avoidance is the preferred style.  If the issue is trivial or the potential damage of confrontation outweighs the benefits of resolution, avoidance is acceptable.  Additionally, use avoidance when there is a need to cool down, ease tension, and regain perspective.  Finally, avoidance is a good strategy when more information is needed to address the conflict.  

While there is no “best” style of conflict management, if you predominantly use avoidance, and it is not producing the results you want, you can build your skills and change your approach.  The first steps are to become aware of your style and decide to learn new skills that help you accomplish your goals.