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Why do people run away from conflict? This is something that for the life of me I will never understand.


Denial

Is someone who is never at conflict or wants peace above all else a pacifist or someone in denial? There is a term I have grown to know quite intimately which I refer to as “artificial peace”. Artificial peace is when instead of dealing with conflict or difficulties, you choose to give up or proclaim something is not worth fighting for or you just decide not to deal with it, making for one bumpy ride.

In our culture there is such a negative connotation with the concept of conflict. It invokes Images of tears, headaches, hurt feelings, power struggles….to which my question is, so what? Yes, sometimes these are part of facing conflict but there is another side of the coin.

Imagine reading a story about a person living a life where everything goes according to plan and everyone buys into what he wants, when he wants it, how he wants it. Wait a minute he (or she) would have to be the only person on earth for that reality to come true….because the second there is another human being demanding what they want when they want it then oops, conflict. And the word that comes to mind is not pacifist, but a dictator or someone wishing absolute control above accountability or responsibility.

Conflict above all is opportunity inside which lies truth. Truth about ourselves and truth about those who do not agree with us on a particular concept, point or perspective. By turning away from it you are in fact turning away from yourself; your ability to learn, to listen, to understand, to grow, most of all you are turning your back on humanity and truth.

I do not believe in violence or unbalanced power during negotiations, but I do believe strongly that by taking the time to listen to someone who disagrees with us, one is demonstrating the most humane and responsible sign of personal greatness and compassion. It is also the greatest opportunity for growth.

To silence someone and not give them the opportunity to express themselves is the equivalent of dehumanising them – it is stripping them away of their dignity and it is putting yourself above another individual. It is telling them you are better and they are not worth it. What an absolutely horrible thing to do.

I am not prescribing for you to go around looking for conflict, or putting yourself in danger to prove a point. But the fact is conflict arrives at our doorstep every single day with your spouse, your children, your neighbour, other drivers, your boss, your customers, people who think differently etc.….

Next time conflict knocks on your door think of it as truth. It is the opportunity for clarity, growth and respect. It is a lesson waiting to be learned. And the thing about truth is that it keeps knocking until you answer it. Just because you avoid a particular conflict this time, you can rest assured it will come back again and again and again until you answer the door and take responsibility for your role as a human being sharing a limited amount of resources on this earth.

In my experience people do not wish to deal with conflict because:

  • They do not necessarily want resolution. They are afraid to grow and take responsibility for their actions and how their actions affect others.
  • People do not think of themselves as in conflict. It is of course always about “the other person”. “They” are the ones with the issue.
  • No one, including ourselves, is very clear about what we have to offer…can lead to being afraid of opening a Pandora’s box and not knowing what to do once it is open.
  • Our approach to resolution often seems superficial. Looking at the issues, not the values and goals that have led to the conflict.
  • Fear of truth and accepting responsibility to others. We all take the time to be just and generous with our compassion to the ones we love (or at least I hope we do), but true humanity and character lies in being compassionate to the ones we do not love, the ones we do not understand and most of all the ones who are hurt.

Stay tuned for strategies on how to deal with conflict effectively on my next blog. In the meantime reflect on this if you would:

“What am I saying to myself that “it does not matter” in my life by not dealing with “it”.

Are you saying no to personal growth? Love? Your relationship? Your children? Your career? …


Carolina Billings

Carolina Billings

Carolina M. Billings is an executive with 15+ year’s leadership experience in the fields of Business Development, Human Resources and Finance. As CFO-CHRO of a multi-million business conglomerate, she performs a truly interdisciplinary role within a portfolio of diverse industries ranging from Supply Chain, Logistics & Distribution, Wealth Management, Furniture Import, Sales & Distribution as well as Interior Design. She champions leadership initiatives as well as empowering and coaching/mentoring others to lead. Developing a hybrid of Finance and Human Resources has enable her to become leading business partner. Her great ability to influence and engage others in the pursuit of goals and objectives makes her a true innovator and change agent. Carolina is currently pursuing her Masters in Interdisciplinary studies with Royal Roads University, She holds Graduate Certificates from Cornell University and Queen’s University in the fields of Change Management and Leadership. She is a Co-Active Professional coach currently doing her practicum towards Certification with ICF. She holds a CHRL designation and a High Honor’s HRM Graduate Certificate. Carolina is the founder of Big Fish Coaching a private practice specializing in personal leadership, career coaching, conflict resolutions and life change management. www.bigfishcoaching.com
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4 Comments » for Why do people run away from conflict? This is something that for the life of me I will never understand.
  1. meslippery says:

    I do not believe in violence or unbalanced power during negotiations, but I do believe strongly that by taking the time to listen to someone who disagrees with us, one is demonstrating the most humane and responsible sign of personal greatness and compassion. It is also the greatest opportunity for growth.

    To silence someone and not give them the opportunity to express themselves is the equivalent of dehumanising them – it is stripping them away of their dignity and it is putting yourself above another individual. It is telling them you are better and they are not worth it. What an absolutely horrible thing to do.

    Carolina ask what happened to cyber CB?
    meslippery

  2. Gaetano Pellegrino says:

    I have been raised in a very conflictious family but what i learnt, is to TALK! So I looked up for article like this because I’m tired of my gf shutting the calls or running away, problems are never solved and we even ended up breaking and she taken my child away… if it wasn’t fir my child, it is not worth to deal with those who tent to run away..they’re still immature!

  3. I agree with this article to a degree. I believe in growth and evolving as a human, taking accountability for your actions and accepting truth in your life. But, I think there is more than one reason why people run from things in their life. In my situation, I grew up in a mentally abusive household. I then, dealt with a manipulative, controlling partner, and over the years my brother turned into a narcissist. Now, I agree with you that of course I played my part in these relationships, and had my fair share of growth and things I needed to work on, but since these relationships it has been extremely hard for me to face conflict in the future, because of the trauma i went through in my childhood, and entering into my adulthood. To me, conflict means fighting, being degraded, manipulated, controlled, hurt, used, taken advantage of. At least that was my experience of it, and I have since learned it does not always end this way. For the longest time, I ran from most conflict. Now, I have learned to tackle it head on, set boundaries and communicate my fears to others I trust. But, there are still certain people (my narcissistic brother, being one) that I can not face conflict with. He yells at me. Tells me i’m dead to him. Tells me every flaw I have and that others wonder what is wrong with me. I can not talk to this person. I can not open up my feelings without fear of them being used against me, because they will. I don’t believe that in all cases people run from conflict because they can’t accept their truth, another reason people run from conflict is due to fear that conflict will result in them being hurt. They are afraid to open up. And maybe if someone feels this way, it is a sign they should not open up to this person and further be hurt and manipulated! There are people I feel 100% comfortable talking about conflicts and understanding how I/they can grow and improve in life, others tear me down, to make themselves feel better. This article only expresses one point of view, and gives people the idea that we should always talk to people about our problems and that if we don’t it is an issue we have. I just don’t see this being true. Maybe in some cases. I did enjoy your writing and the element of taking accountability and growth, but sometimes we
    have to grow from resolving the conflict within ourselves, because some people will try to prevent us to grow and only try to tear us down. That’s when I take my precious feelings to someone I know will care for them how they should be.

    Cheers,
    Shauna

  4. Srdan Simac says:

    Thank you, Carolina, for your wonderful text! I like very much exploring the conflicts and human nature in it. Your thoughts have helped me understand more and hopefully respond better 🙂 Keep writing! Warmly, Srđan

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