If there is a class that everyone should go through, its how to walk through effective conflict resolution. One of the reasons today’s relationships only go so far, is that we do not know how to effectively walk through conflict together. Without this skill operating, our relationships will not be honest and empowering. We will only remain in the shallow end, unless we can walk through honest communication together.
When we are confronted with a conflict or issue in the relationship, there are often some myths involved that hinder us and prevent us from moving forward.
Myth #1: Conflict can be avoided.
This is only true if you want to live in a cave or if you never want to deal with anything in your life. If you want to live, it is impossible to avoid confrontation. Many try to live without dealing with conflict, but they don’t live; they only survive. Their goal is to avoid conflict at all costs. Many people, therefore, wander around tough scenarios when the answer is really very simple—to confront the person you are avoiding.
When we avoid conflict, we don’t live as peacemakers, we become peacekeepers. In other words, we do whatever is necessary to avoid an uncomfortable conversation or argument. Those who “make” peace are not afraid to step into the battle zone to seek peace. Peace “keepers” will sell out to fear in order to keep anything uncomfortable from happening.
Myth #2: Addressing conflict means something bad is going to happen.
One of the reasons we avoid trying to resolve conflicts to begin with is that we assume the conversation to do so is going to be awful and warlike. Although this can be true, we often project way too much doom and gloom into the conversation. Fear keeps us from even wanting to go there, believing the conversation will get too heated and we won’t know what to do. We focus on the negative, not seeing the great potential that can come to the relationship if we work through it. We also don’t see how much we will grow, regardless of whether or not the other person is willing to walk towards a healed and healthier relationship.
Myth #3: If I avoid conflict, the relationship will stay great.
This is a straight up lie. The truth is the relationship will plateau, often only going so far and never reaching its true potential. From this point, most relationships become fake and fabricated, because no one can honestly speak their heart and mind anymore. Issues are avoided and interactions become shallow.
The truth is, relationships can only get better when we get to the point where we can address issues, bring up conflict and work through them together. Some of my most fruitful relationships have been those where we walked through the tunnel of conflict and came out the other side stronger.
On the other hand, I have sadly watched way too many relationships fizzle out as people did not want to enter into the realm of honest discussion and healthy conflict interaction. Once you open up a touchy subject, you are shut down, and the relationship is just never the same again.
Myth #4: Assuming the other person just has it out for you.
This is the work of a rejection mindset that starts us off on the defensive. In this mode, we already have our gloves on before the conversation even starts. Most of the time, when I am in a conflict resolution scenario, the person does not mean to be vindictive, or they are lashing out from a place of hurt that actually has nothing to do with me. It is being projected onto me because it was never resolved from the past.
Myth #5: Conflict can always be resolved.
I believe if both parties are operating with healthy mindsets, then resolution can always be found. But as the saying goes, “It takes two.” So often there is a glitch where someone is not willing to work through the issues at hand in a biblical and healthy way.
The point of entering into conflict resolution is to create an invitation for the relationship to be improved. But not everyone says yes to that invitation. Many want to just focus on their grievance, hold onto their grudge or stay angry about an issue.
Myth #6: Having a rational conversation will fix everything.
This was a subtle lie I believed for many, many years. I thought, “Come on. If they just hear me out. If I can just have a rational conversation with this person, everything will work out fine.” After spending numerous meetings to no avail, fruitfulness hour-long phone calls and novel size email exchanges, resolution was nowhere to be found. The more I tried to “fix” the situation, the worse it got. I had to learn the hard way that not everyone actually wants to see the situation resolved. Too often people want to just hold onto their junk. Those of us who want to be healthy need to know when to let these people go. Unfortunately, it took me many years to really begin doing this with people I was trying to help who just didn’t want it.
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