Conflict Avoidance: What to Do When Silence Becomes Stifling

0 87

Conflict is a natural part of our relationships – no matter what kind of relationship that might be. There are times when I am forced to confront conflicts and disagreements with my best friend and sometimes those conflicts are between me and my sister. No matter what relationship you have, conflicts and disagreements will be there. And yet, many of us tend to shy away from them. And for good reason too.

My reasons for shying away from conflict are mostly fear of hurting my loved ones or making them feel disappointed in me. To you, the reasons could be more diplomatic. Regardless, this instinct to avoid conflict can often cause us a host of problems in our personal as well as work lives.

So, how do we break this habit of conflict avoidance? How do we learn to confront conflicts without letting it get back to us? Let’s find the answers to these questions below. Keep reading to learn what is conflict avoidance, how it might harm us, and how to avoid conflict avoidance, once and for all.

What is Conflict Avoidance?

Conflict avoidance is a people-pleasing behavioral trait where you go to great lengths to sidestep or avoid conflicts, often choosing silence or passive compliance instead of addressing issues head-on. You may avoid conflicts even when they are necessary to solve the situation at hand. If you engage in conflict avoidance, then you may be described as a conflict-avoidant person.

This kind of people-pleasing can take a toll on your mental well-being and impact your relationships as well. This can also make it harder for you to maintain healthy boundaries.

Conflict Avoidance Behavior Can Look Like…

If you engage in conflict avoidance, then this behavior can look a lot like this;

You stay silent and tend to keep your thoughts and feelings to yourself, even if you’re hurt or disagree with the other person
You agree with others just to keep the peace even when everything goes against your values
You avoid confrontation and steer clear of situations where conflicts and disagreements may arise
You are too accommodating to others’ needs, more often than not at the expense of your needs and wishes
You make jokes during confrontations to make light of the situation and prevent it from escalating further
You often bottle up your feelings and suppress your true emotions during confrontations that tend to explode later as passive-aggressiveness

What Causes Conflict Avoidance?

Now that you know what conflict avoidance is, let’s understand what causes conflict avoidance behaviors. Recognizing the causes or factors that cause conflict avoidance can help you understand why you might engage in such people-pleasing behavior;

1. Fear of Confrontation: The fear of confrontation, rejection, or damaging relationships can make you want to avoid addressing some issues, even when confrontation might seem like a healthy option.

2. Low Self-Esteem: If you have low self-esteem, then you may prefer to avoid conflicts to maintain a sense of belonging and approval. People with low self-esteem crave external validation and confronting others for their actions might not get them what they want.

3. Family Influences: If you’ve been brought up in a family where conflicts were hardly addressed, then that too can affect your conflict avoidance.

4. Past Trauma: If you have experienced traumatic conflict situations in past relationships, then that experience may also cause you to avoid confrontations and conflicts. Even if it is just to avoid reliving those traumatic experiences.

How Does Conflict Avoidance Affect You?

Conflict avoidance might seem like the path of least resistance, but it can have serious consequences for your mental and emotional well-being. I mean, suppressing your feelings can lead to increased stress, anxiety, and even physical health problems.

When you avoid conflicts then that means you allow room for unresolved problems to fester, which can later worsen over time, affecting your mental health and well-being.

Constantly avoiding conflicts can also begin to wear on your trust and intimacy in your relationships and can increase the chances of depression and loneliness in the relationship.

Not just romantic relationships, but conflict avoidance can affect your professional relationships as well. There have been studies on workplace relationships that suggest that avoiding conflict doesn’t solve anything in the workplace, only increases emotional exhaustion.

According to a Report by Tara Carr, Small Business Development Director at UW-Green Bay,

Conflict avoidance can be constructive and appropriate, especially during an emotionally charged situation. Weighing in the right time, right place and the potential benefit of the outcome, along with having the right information, are all factors to consider when balancing constructive avoidance versus negative conflict avoidance. Managers should not respond on emotion, as they should make decisions with a level head and big picture approach. To be an effective leader, while taking into account of delaying conflict avoidance in isolated situations, the majority of conflict needs to be addressed in a timely manner.

How to Stop Avoiding Conflicts?

 So, how can you avoid conflicts and confrontations? Here are some tips to help you out on that front;

1. Become Self-Aware

To stop avoiding conflicts, the first step is to become aware of your conflict avoidance behavior. Acknowledge that you engage in conflict avoidance and the effects it’s having on your personal and work life.

2. Work on Your Communication Skills

Develop your communication skills and learn to express yourself as assertively and constructively as you can, especially when faced with a confrontational situation. Without being assertive, you won’t be able to move forward in life.

3. Practice Empathy

Try to understand the views and perspectives of others involved in your confrontations and conflicts. Empathy can help you understand others’ perspectives and teach you how to become involved in conflict resolution without harming others.

4. Set Boundaries

Conflict avoidance can make it harder for you to set boundaries so work on them and learn how to set healthy boundaries. Learn to say “NO” when needed and do not overwhelm yourself because of confrontations and disagreements. When you need to remove yourself from a confrontation, do it.

5. Increase Self-Esteem

You can also learn to work on and boost your self-esteem to stop conflict avoidance. When you increase your self-esteem and confidence, it can help reduce the fear of rejection and confrontations in conflicts.

6. Seek Counseling

If needed, then seek help and support from a counselor. Professional intervention can help address the root cause of conflict avoidance and give you more strategies to avoid conflict avoidance in the future.

Wrapping Up…

Conflict avoidance is a common people-pleasing behavior but it can harm your growth, harm your relationships, and even impact your well-being negatively. Learning how to confront conflicts with better communication skills, empathy, and self-awareness can help you navigate conflicts smoothly and constructively.

Avoiding conflicts and choosing silence might seem a good option, but it can only be temporary. Addressing conflict avoidance can help you lead a fulfilling life and better navigate your relationships.

I hope this article helped you understand what conflict avoidance is, how it might harm your well-being, and how to stop conflict avoidance. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Take Care!

The post Conflict Avoidance: What to Do When Silence Becomes Stifling appeared first on Calm Sage – Your Guide to Mental and Emotional Well-being.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.