Are you Conflict Averse?

Sometime during toddlerhood we learn that our needs and our family’s needs will not always be simultaneously met. This divergence of “interests” (needs, desires, preferences and priorities) is what we’ve already learned conflict to be.

We also learn early on that conflict can turn into a frightening dispute at the drop of a hat. We spill our milk on Mom’s new dress. She reprimands us. We burst into tears and are sent into our room. Later, we push a classmate on the playground and are deprived of recess privileges for a week. Sometimes the teacher shames us by sending us to the principal or making us stand outside in the hall. It’s safer, we’ve learned, and easier, we’ve concluded, just to avoid conflict altogether. Social scientists refer to this as “conflict averse.”

Avoiding conflict, however, can be damaging and deprive us of opportunity. Overcoming conflict requires courage. It takes courage to acknowledge our human fallibility, acknowledge wrongdoings, make amends and reconcile with our fellows.