I was thinking the other day that I haven’t gotten in a fight with anyone in awhile. I haven’t even been annoyed by anyone either, but that could be due to the fact that I avoid Facebook as much as possible. I figured since I don’t currently have a conflict with anyone, now would be a good time to write a post about how to deal with conflict so that when the sh*t hits the fan, I can refer back to it.
What I Hope To Remember The Next Time Someone Pisses Me Off
Face to face is almost always better than email or text. There’s nothing like the feeling you get when you reply to a critical or mean-spirited email. Your heart pounds and your hands shake as your fingers fly across the keyboard, composing a retort that concisely details every reason why the sender got it wrong. But people rarely reply with, “Wow. You’re so right and I’m mistaken. Clearly, I’m a total amaze-hole.” Usually their reply details why you’re an amaze-hole and why you’re the one who’s mistaken.
Sometimes email can give you time to process information and intelligently express your emotions but more often than not, it works as a wall between people and encourages presenting ourselves in a way that serves to make us look good. Sending off a one-sided email where we get to say whatever we want and no one can interrupt us sounds so appealing but It’s easy to misread a person’s tone, intentions and sincerity, which can lead to more conflict. Digital courage allows us to say things in email that we’d never say in person.
Don’t hide behind a screen. If you’re nervous about confronting someone in person, that’s good. Confrontation takes personal responsibility and you should take it seriously. When you work it out in person, both sides are more likely to see each other as real people, not just words on a page that can be easily dismissed.
I’m a fan of writing clever, scathing emails to help me work out my feelings and then deleting them. Just don’t put in the recipients email address in case you “accidentally” hit send.
Love helps and so does humility. Since this is a Frozen summer in our house, I’ll quote from the soundtrack: People make bad choices when they’re mad or sad or stressed but throw a little love their way and you’ll bring out their best. – Fixer Upper, Frozen Soundtrack
You’re not going to love everyone you ever get in a fight with but you can act in a loving way. That means not saying everything you want to say because to do so would be cruel. It means taking a step back when to continue to confront will only make it worse. It means accepting that a complicated situation may not have a succinct resolution. And most importantly, it means looking for ways to understand why the other person feels the way they do so that you both can let go hurt, anger and disappointment.
Conflict divides us and humility connects us. We want the people we disagree with to look different from us. We want to be able to safely put people in the “them” category away from “us”. We call them names, say they’re crazy, list the reasons why we’re not like them all in an attempt to justify our righteousness. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned on my recovery road it’s that we’re more like “them” than we dare to admit and the behaviors that bug us most are usually the ones we despise in ourselves. There’s an old phrase: You spot it, you got it. If you can point it out in someone else, it’s because you’re guilty of it too. If you can recognize that, you can show kindness, even when you’re pissed off.
Not everyone is going to like you. Crazy, right? I’m so likable and sweet and funny. My motives are pure, my heart so true. It’s inconceivable that there are people out there that can’t stand the sound of my voice or the smirk on my precious little face. Hard to imagine, I know.
I spent a lot of time trying to convince people to like me and it was a waste of time. Do you know why? Because liking people is overrated. You can love someone and not like them very much. That’s how little it matters. We fall in and out of like all the time and we’re so fickle about it. We click “like” on statuses, photos and comments as if we’re gracing people with our praise but those likes bestowed upon us say nothing about who we are as people, only about what we’re showing the world.
I like to be liked. More accurately, I like it when people approve of my opinions or actions. I enjoy seeing a bunch of “likes” at the bottom of my blog post but that’s not the same as being liked for who I am as a person. And if someone doesn’t like me, I no longer try to change their mind because their feelings say more about them than about me. The same is true when I don’t like someone. Don’t try to resolve a conflict solely because you can’t stand it when someone doesn’t like you. Winning them over does not mean you win.
It’s good to leave some things unspoken. That doesn’t mean you should let people walk all over you or not stand up for yourself. It means that if you take a step back from a disagreement, some things will work themselves out in the silence. During different phases in my life I either confronted everyone who I felt wronged me or slunk off with my tail between my legs. I finally found a middle ground where I won’t allow myself to be mistreated, but I’m not quick to anger and defend.
Hopefully, these insights will help me the first time someone criticizes one of my kids or they get picked on. That’s when I’ll really get the chance to smoke what I’m selling. I’ll tell you how it goes.