It is my firm belief that whenever two or more people spend extended amounts of time together, there will at some point be a conflict. By conflict I mean a disagreement, a conflict of interests, a point of contention or similar. It happens and is part of the human experience.

This especially means that there will be conflicts with co-workers and close family. Whenever I hear an elderly couple in that cliché scene of a documentary say that they did not have a single argument in 60 years, I wonder what that means. Surely they must have had conflicts?

There are different ways to deal with a conflict, but to me they all seem to boil down to either of these:

  • Confront it: Voice concerns, disagree, have a discussion. This is hard, often painful, and sometimes leads to arguments. When done right, the conflict is resolved and all parties grow closer because they have overcome the conflict together and figured it out. Over time you’d hopefull get better at it and grow up so you can have these conversations without actively hurting anyone.
  • Ignore it: Tell yourself it’s not that bad, switch topics, don’t talk about it. This is essentially hoping that the conflict will solve itself or became irrelevant in the future.

Maybe there are also cases in which an conflict is acknowledged without any attempt to resolve it. That might be an appropriate response since at least you can agree that there is disagreement and this is the start of a conversation.

If you never openly have any disagreements or arguments, you probably avoid a lot of painful and difficult conversations that you need to have about conflicts that definitely exist: A conflict that you do not confront is an unresolved conflict.