It may seem obvious to view conflict as a negative entity. We don’t like the emotions that come with disagreement. But the truth is, conflict is neutral. In and of itself, it is neither positive nor negative. It is the way we approach, handle, and resolve conflict that determines whether it becomes a bad thing or a good thing. Like most things, it is our choices that determine the value of conflict.
As such, there are two kinds of conflict. Healthy and unhealthy. One adds value to relationships. It isn’t just something to endure, let alone lament. It is a tool for strengthening intimacy. The other is a poison. Here are 7 signs you are on the right side of the health of conflict.
1) Define “Win”
Conflict, by definition is two (or more) people on opposing sides of an issue. If you define “winning” by destroying, conquering, and overcoming the other side, you are in a dangerous place. If you define “winning” as sharing truth, honesty, and coming to a mutual understanding, you’re on your way to health. The vision for conflict is vital. It determines our aim. If we are aiming to destroy one another, we will. If we are aiming for health and unity, conflict will be a tool that aids us. Our conflict will be determined by our intention.
2) Heart Of The Matter
So often, we erupt in conflict over trivial things. We hide the true issues behind superficial ones. We yell because our spouse forgot to fold the towels without realizing the true meaning behind our hurt – their actions make us feel like they are taking us for granted. The problem is that we want our conflict to be about facts. It help makes us right. It helps ensure we win. It is ammo. But conflict is almost always about perspective. If we can be honest about what we’re talking about, we can engage in conflict honestly.
Home plate for conflict is the feeling of safety within a relationship. If you do not trust your partner, if you do not feel safe being honest with someone, you’ve struck out before taking a swing. The grounding reality that you are on the same team with whoever you are in conflict with is the gravity that keeps our feet on the ground. If we don’t feel safe, we won’t share anything but defense mechanisms and weapons of either the aggressive or passive-aggressive variety.