Let’s start by getting our understanding of what conflict is first before we go any further.
Conflict is a dispute that turns personal. It usually involves abusive language, disrespectful behaviour and the breakdown of effective working relationships.
- When couples are in conflict they forget about love and use their intimacy to hurt each other.
- When parents are in conflict they forget about their responsibilities and love for their child and use them as weapons to hurt the other parent.
- When colleagues are in conflict they do things that damage the business and each other in order to try and win or discredit their enemy.
- When associates are in conflict they forget about the mission of their organisation, the reason they are part of the club or why they are building a business together and behave in stupid and destructive ways to get back at each other in an always escalating series of tit for tat paybacks.
- When countries are in conflict they take actions that cause harm to many of their citizens and often escalate quite quickly into violence or even all out war.
The Conflict Escalation Volcano
This volcano is a great metaphor that shows graphically what I mean.
You don’t go from peace to conflict. There are many opportunities to resolve it in between.
The problem is that many times people wait to get help with a dispute resolution such as mediation only after a lot of damage has been done and it is very difficult to resolve things because of the personal insults, nasty or even violent behaviour that have already happened.
A stitch in time saves nine!
This is a very old saying my grandmother used to say.
A stitch in time saves nine.
She was born in 1903 and developed back in the days when people used to repair things rather than throw them away.
The saying means that we should fix things early so they don’t have time to get worse.
As soon as you notice a difference in opinion, approach or attitude disturbing the peace of your relationship try to find an acceptable (to all) way to resolve it.
Trying to use your power to control others is just putting a cap on the problem so you can’t see it. The problem is still there, the pressure will build up and it will be released.
It might be released violently like a volcano or because people are not really volcanos it might be released by them finding an opportunity to leave.
Controlling others doesn’t work in the long term in the modern world. It used to in the past and if you come from a country that is living in the past it might still work there. It doesn’t in Australia. Here you are more likely to get a Family Violence or Personal Safety Intervention Order against you and risk criminal charges if you ignore the order of the court to stop being abusive, violent, controlling or stalking the other person.
The sad thing is that by the time it gets to the intervention of the court you probably think your behaviour is totally justified due to the behaviour of the other person.
Another old saying that remains true. Two wrongs don’t make a right.
Your ex not letting you see your child doesn’t make it OK for you to turn off their hot water system, leave dead flowers on the door step or go through their mail.
What would be a better use of your time and energy would be working out ways to de-escalate the dispute about your roles in your child’s life, resolve the problems that are causing the dispute, reach an agreement about what that resolution will be and then talk about the differences of interpretation that will crop up.
If you can find a way to restore the peace even if the love has gone you may find that you are #1 on the phone tree for extra time with your child, that your ex is grateful for how supportive you are and how much you show your love for your child.
Different story. Same beginning but you get to choose the ending.
Differences are inevitable. Conflict isn’t.
Chances are if you are still reading this that you have an issue with an interpersonal problem that is disturbing your sleep. We might be able to help.
Get in touch for a free dispute diagnostic session.