peace and war

I’ve been going through the book “Maximum Success” by James Waldroop & Timothy Butler of the Harvard Business School. It’s about changing behavior patterns that keep you from getting ahead. One of those behaviors discussed is avoiding conflicts.

Now, you may be thinking, avoiding conflicts is a good thing right? Not always! Sometimes, conflicts are necessary to get ahead and move towards a better solution. Conflicts (and I mean the passive kind, not the aggressive brutal kind) can give rise to a higher understanding of each position and provide the opportunity to evolve to a new idea that benefits all parties involved.

Certain people avoid conflicts of any type. They will accept everything that is put in front of them, thinking that if they do voice their concerns, it will make things worse. They view conflict as completely negative, and thus go along with situations that in fact they are not completely satisfied with. This behavior is seen frequently in relationships, such as someone that will go along with everything their partner says and does even if it is not beneficial to them, just for the sake of keeping a certain air of peace. It is also seen in the workplace, where for example, a manager is walked all over by its employees because he/she wants to be accepted by all and feels that any conflict will result in them being “hated” by others.

Learning to accept conflicts for your own benefit is a tough task. People that avoid conflicts at any cost have a phobia, much like a fear of heights or public speaking. They need to learn that facing a conflict does not mean that you are now going to fight with everyone or that it’s the end of the world! There is a great analogy in this book “Maximum Success” that explains the difference between a lion and a zebra, and that as a zebra, sometimes you do need to act like a lion for your survival, even if you are never going to be an actual lion.

As well, another important point is to know how to normalize the relationship after a conflict. People with a phobia of conflicts think that it causes irreparable damages, but in reality, simple diplomacy after the fact and kindness can make things better instantly. Yes, things may have gotten heated during the conflict, but by acknowledging that you understand their point of view and apologize if things got too much out of hand, you can make a huge difference and bring the relationship with the other party to a better level.

At times, to have lasting peace, you need to be ready to fight. Doesn’t mean you are going to fight! But you need to be ready and prepared, because sometimes the consequences of avoiding all conflicts far outweighs the ones that result from the conflicts themselves.

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