Thoughts on Interpersonal Conflict

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Jax created the topic: Thoughts on Interpersonal Conflict

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Thoughts on Interpersonal Conflict

I've been thinking a lot about conflict, online and off. Conflict is unavoidable, because no one agrees with everyone all the time. However, there are ways to minimize the emotional effects of conflict. 

For example, recently I have had discussions with more than one person there who I really disagree with. That's to be expected when more liberal ideas mix with more conservative ideas. However, that would be oversimplifying the situation. Which brings me to my first contribution to conflict: assumptions. 

When we hear a label, we tend to go immediately to what we believe that label represents. For instance, when I hear conservative, I think of social conservatives. They're the people who think I'm this horrible sinner, and that my wife and I are less human than they are, and doing something wrong by just following our hearts. Naturally, this leads to a less than positive reaction to the word. But that reaction is based on something completely unrelated to the person at hand. For one, there are very few true conservatives, where they are conservative about everything. This one person, for instance, is more of a fiscal conservative, and a security type conservative (military stuff), rather than a social conservative. We disagree with the way the country is run, but tend to agree on human rights at least, which is key for me. The lesson here is to not assume a label means what you think it means. Don't jump to conclusions.

Now it's also important to go beyond just labels, but to how everything a person says affects you. For instance, if you were offended by something, take a step back. Did the person mean to offend you? It's usually obvious if they did. However, most of the time people aren't trying to offend you. It's just like the labels issue, the conflict is really coming from inside you, rather than the other person. Much pain can be avoided when you realize where the conflict actually comes from. 

Next thing to consider, when conflict comes up, perhaps a heated discussion about something near and dear to your heart, it isn't the end of the world, or the relationship. As children, we write off friends and pick up new ones at the drop of a hat. But we're adults. We can't run away from our conflicts, even if we want to. Many times we have conflicts with people we need to work with on a daily basis, and we can't just stop speaking to them. Here are some things to keep in mind.

First off, when a debate gets heated, it is very rarely personal. Yet, we tend to take it personally. People have a problem with other people's beliefs, not necessarily them. For instance, this guy and I tended to clash a lot in college. However, over the years we were able to debate and still talk to each other later without any repercussions. We even had a discussion about gay marriage. He knew what he was saying personally affected me. And I called him on it, because especially with social issues it's important to remember that you're talking about people, not some vague theoretical concept. We were able to calmly discuss our views, as adults. I understood his point that he sees marriage defined in one way, though he doesn't have a problem with giving the equal legal equivalent. And I can agree with that, because I think we all need to compromise a bit. The point is, we didn't take things personally. I could have gotten upset, mistakenly believing he doesn't want my wife and I to have our life together. But that isn't really the case. By not getting upset we actually found an understanding between each other, and could remain the pseudo-friends we were. 

Second, even if it is personal, it's not the end of the world. A person can only hurt you if you let them. If you can remain calm, they won't get as upset as if you return the emotions. We've all seen how quickly emotions can amplify, turning a small debate into a ball of flames! This is where meditation and breathing techniques come in. If we're mindful of our emotions, we can bring our focus to calm breathing, thus calming our mind and emotions. This keeps the debate in control. 

The key, no matter what happens, is to find a way to release these emotions after the debate. Holding onto anger just brings forth more anger. And who really wants to go through life angry when they don't have to be? If you see this person on a regular basis, you can't hold onto that anger. It just causes more conflicts where there need not be any. Also, it makes you a rather unpleasant person to be around. 

I say all of these things as a gentle reminder. We all have our bad days. But holding onto those negative emotions just makes things worse. I hope this brings a little perspective to your life. Even more, I hope this was just a reminder, and not something new :-)
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Hybrid Dawn replied the topic: Re: Thoughts on Interpersonal Conflict

I agree with what you're saying and I'm really glad you took the time to write all that out.

While I'm not quite in the adult world, I'm quickly approaching it and I know that you can't let little things get at you, or you'll be miserable and angry for your entire life.

Since I'm still in high school and almost a senior, I do have a lot of friends who find offensive things funny. In today's media, it's hard for people not to poke fun at extremelly sensitive issues, and in a way, I find that it's a good thing.

When it comes down to religion, sexuality, political views, people always have something to say, but rarely voice their opinions on it in fear of being casted out, or starting a conflict. Confrontation is always something I try to avoid, and realising that you can't always treat every statement as an invitation to defend your beliefs to the death is the easiest way to keep a debate in check and not lose a friend.

I also find that when a statement is made and another person freaks out about it, it may prompt the person who made it to continue what they're doing, just to get a rise out of you. Remaining calm not only keeps you out of these situations, but it also makes it seem like you have enough confidence and conviction in your beliefs, not to get overly agitated about it, almost as if you're not only proving a point to them, but to yourself as well.

I have some friends who frequently enjoy making fun of everything and everyone, they're never really serious about it and it's always just something they do, and they can take the insults just as well. When I first met them and they found out that I liked girls and not guys, they immediately jumped on that. At first it would bother me because I was still coming to terms with it myself, but I always let it slide and I realised it was how they treated everyone. Two years later I'm glad they did it because it really helped me understand that it was okay to be how I was and I would have people who accepted me for it. The topic comes up frequently and they always have some new perverse question to ask or some cheesy pick up line in hopes of "turning me to the right side" and that stuff may have offended me before because I wasn't completely okay with myself, but now that I am I realise it's all just there way of saying they care.

While this is kind of jumbled because I just woke up, I hope I got my general view accross.
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Kai-An Tatok replied the topic: Re: Thoughts on Interpersonal Conflict

I completely agree. I find now that I've learned not to jump at every little thing that I understand myself better- I don't argue or debate things that don't really matter, because I *know* what really matters to me. At the same time, there are things worth arguing- if you really truly believe in something, sometimes it's worth the confrontation, as long as you treat all parties with the respect that makes a debate a debate and not a fight.

Much love,
Kai-An

"Close your eyes. Feel it. The light, it's always been there. It will guide you." -Maz Kanata
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Jon Barris replied the topic: Re: Thoughts on Interpersonal Conflict

This is certainly a very important issue, something which I think everyone without exception should consider. I certainly had my share of being labeled: a half German who shared in the autrocities of the second world war, or a half bitish imperialist who robbed the world, someone who chose religious life because of being gay, weak because of being an open person, undisciplined because I asked questions, stupid because my school results left a lot to be desired, an irresponsible parent because my child was loud.... . At the time I too was hurt and very angry, sometimes filled with hate. Now I too am gratefull because I can at least appreciate others who are going through the same things. Then however I was outraged when I experienced predjudice, but now I also try to understand where the judgements are coming from. Experience can be a good teacher.
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inari replied the topic: Re: Thoughts on Interpersonal Conflict

I don't find myself in conflict with others very often because I am not fussed if they hold another opinion than I do. I'm not all that interested in trying to 'convert' them to my point of view, even if that seems to be what they are doing. People need to feel they are 'right', and that seems to mean having you agree with them.

Rather than have a disagreement, I will either say something like 'Well, my ideas on that are a little different to yours, but thats OK.' If if they ask my opinion I'll give it, but I don't 'share' much otherwise. If it is clearly not OK to them that my ideas are different, I'll usually just walk away. I'm not fussed if they get all hot and bothered about it, thats their emotion, their burden, not mine.

Inari
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Jon Barris replied the topic: Re: Thoughts on Interpersonal Conflict

Ideally this is what I also try to do. But when people begin to get physical (hitting or burning things) it is difficult to walk away. When insults are versed towards your mother it is also hard to turn away. When you live with these people it is also hard.
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inari replied the topic: Re: Thoughts on Interpersonal Conflict

Yes Jon, I admit I have had it easier than yourself or Jax.
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Jax replied the topic: Re: Thoughts on Interpersonal Conflict

Actually I have no problem with physical conflict.  I've never been in a fight or anything like that.  It's not my nature.  I tend to have a harder time letting go of arguments at times, but once my mind catches up with my mouth I tend to just give up and leave because I don't like to argue and get nowhere. 
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