Do you or someone you know tend to sever ties too quickly or walk away from conflict before resolution occurs? If you answered yes, you’re not alone. Many people prefer to avoid conflict even if it means severing ties with a loved one. They may be convinced that the other person will react poorly so they opt to detach. For some, fear is the primary factor while others choose to hold a grudge and justify their disconnection. In some cases the hurt feelings or anger grows and festers over time which only reinforces the decision to distance oneself. The hope is that time will heal the wound, but it often doesn’t work. The tumor mushrooms until it is excised.
There are other options available to us when we are hurt, disappointed or angered by someone we love and care about. We can attempt to talk through our feelings constructively, validate each other, apologize, forgive, and let go. Walking away from conflict is only positive when the discussion becomes too volatile or intense and respectful interactions are unlikely. In that case taking a timeout works (for 30-60 minutes) as long as afterwards the conversation is revisited. Sometimes conflict resolution is impossible and the expectations need to change from resolution to management. Either way, the benefit of talking it through and attempting to achieve closure is the ultimate objective.
Some people walk away from conflict too quickly without allowing the other person to share their thoughts and feelings. They would rather be passive-aggressive and punish with the silent treatment. However, the harm that it causes us when we internalize negative emotions is greater than the harm it causes the other person. The best tact is to allow each other to express feelings, acknowledge each other’s perspective, and let go of the pain. It also helps if you trust that the other person does not intentionally or purposefully desire to cause pain. Of course if a person is consistently hurtful, toxic, and destructive in their words or actions then terminating that relationship may be the best option, especially if they don’t have any desire to change. Ultimately the best way to deal with conflict in relationships is not fight or flight, but instead seeking to understand and resolve. We all can say or do hurtful things to those we love, but we can also have the emotional maturity and wisdom to forgive and resolve.