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Why are we so afraid of conflict?

Why are we so afraid of conflict? Because we associate it with combat.

Why are we afraid of combat? Because we don’t want to get hurt.

In the workplace, the fear of conflict stunts our creativity, growth and collaboration. So, if we want to get those three important ingredients for productivity and job satisfaction back, we need to learn how to manage conflict effectively for all concerned.

Most of us learned our conflict management skills by trial and error, or, by doing what our parents did...or the exact opposite. Is that serving you well? For most people, it does not.  We really need to give ourselves the time to both learn the skills and remove the old patterns. And, that's what I help people do, whether they have conflict within themselves, with others at home, or in the workplace. And, yes, I had to learn these skills.

First, I had to realize that the skills I "inherited" were not as effective as I wanted to be.  Remember, I'm a peace catalyst, so all the stuff that comes with poor skills does not produce peace, within me or in the relationship.  I always knew that peace was not passive, doormat kind of stuff, but rather, an active skilled choice that I wanted to be as effective at creating as possible--in every circumstance. To know myself so well that I could express and maintain clear boundaries, with skills that allowed me to be totally honest AND totally kind at the same time was my goal.

Now, you've likely read enough in my blogs to know that I believe that aligning our behavior with our values, vision, beliefs and purpose is the bedrock of authentic living.  I know that's not surprising, or even rocket science, and I also know that people talk more about it than do it! So, I'll leave that as a given, the basis of the work.  So, what are skills for managing conflict?

Yes, we can say that conflict is effectively handled if we can make it go away, hide it under a rock, or beat the other person to a pulp.  Of course, we're kidding ourselves. Problem is the conflict is only temporarily out of sight. It is still lurking and unresolved.  And, lurking conflict is threatening and disempowering. After all, how much working or loving  are you going to get done when you know there is a rhino in the room waiting to jump  on your chest?

Compelling reasons for sitting yourself down to explore your attitude and fears about conflict?  YES! If you are being held captive to your inability or unwillingness to address conflict within yourself,or among you and others you live and work with, you are choosing to squelch your creativity and squash your potential. Sounds dire, and, IT’S TRUE!

Ah, you’re thinking that you can find creative ways to resolve conflict. Good !  You can with one caveat: it must address the conflict with the intention of a win-win outcome. That might take just a smidge more creativity and skill than you previously thought!


♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ As February is the month of love, so Hallmark would have us believe--I personally think every month is made for that--I'll be offering two series of serious skill-building programs by webinar and telephone.  Both programs on communication and conflict management skills: one for skills with your life partner, one series for skills with all those other folks, your family, community and work relationships.  To stay up-to-date with this offering, just subscribe to the blog in the column to the right of this.  You'll never miss a thing! ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

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  1. Evelyn Thatcher - Reply

    I would like to subscribe to your blog.

    Thank you very much!



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      DrShaler - Reply

      Hello, Evelyn,

      Great! To subscribe to the blog, you can go to and subscribe from the homepage in the ‘Follow’ column. We welcome your subscription and your comments to the blogs.

      Sow Peace,

      Rhoberta Shaler, PhD, is the founder of Sow Peace International and the creator of Whole Life Feng Shui.

  2. ellie - Reply

    This is a great article1 I also came across another article from “Rock The Post Blog” talking about how to diffuse conflict: “Diffusing Conflict Effectively In Leadership”. See if you are interested

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