Blog by Dr. Liz Selzer
Conflict is “friction or opposition resulting from actual or perceived differences or incompatibilities." Friction can get us heated and can be downright uncomfortable. Why is it that disagreements with certain people seem to take on an ache different from those with others? I know if I have found a person to be “safe,” someone who knows how to listen and state their alternative view with respect, the friction can actually spur healthy discussion and creativity. Consequently when I have a history of unhealthy conflict with someone, I tend to go into avoidance mode because I know that only painful interactions seem to be possible. I can still work on those relationships to become healthier (we discussed ways to do this on the radio show this week), but there is value in knowing ahead of time to put up defenses with people who have proven to be unsafe.
But what about when conflict unexpectedly raises its head in a relationship that has been encouraging and positive in the past? In my recent experience this type of conflict caught me vulnerable and unprepared to respond. Disturbing and difficult, it robbed me of sleep and appetite, and made me question resolve. As a result of being caught off guard by the very negative reaction to something I had done thinking it would be received in the opposite fashion, I came to a decision point. Do I proceed to continue the friction through arguing for my case or do I instead put the relationship ahead of “being right.” I chose the latter to honor the past gift of friendship I had with this person, even at some personal and professional expense.
What do you think? Have you had to choose relationship over positive progress? What is the “correct” decision to make? I am at peace with my decision this time, but realize this is a gray area and that it may not always work out this way in the future.