Does “Conflict” Get a Bad Rap?

13 Oct

What do you think of when someone says the word, “conflict”? If you ‘re like most of us, it conjurs-up a negative feeling and response. In fact, Kerry Foreman, from the Huffington Post, likes to ask 5th graders to react to the word, “conflict,” when she speaks to children.

No suprise – all the children have negative responses to the word. And, frankly, why wouldn’t they? Most of us have been taught that conflict is BAD. Conflict is something to be avoided at all costs. And, it’s best not to have it at all. Admittedly, I’ve done the same thing in the midst of breaking-up fights between my three children. And, I’m supposed to be a conflict resoltion expert!conflicct

But, what if we taught our children that conflict is HEALTHY and necessary? What if we told them that conflict is, sometimes, the only way to understand one another? What if (gasp!) we actually encouraged healthy conflict when there is an issue at-hand?

The truth is this: Without conflict, the resentment we feel can become overwhelming. Conflict (if it’s handled properly) can actually release some of this tension and resentment and lead to a fuller understanding of the issue. Without conflict, we’d continue to “push-down” our feelings until they bubble up and explode.

Instead, why can’t we teach others to embrace conflict and look at conflict as an opportunity to resolve the issue at hand?

In the throws of parenting chaos, I often forget that my children want and need conflict, so they can understand how to resolve it. Without conflict, they’ll never know how to compromise, understand others, and move-on.

I know why conflict often gets a bad rap – it’s because, all too often, we don’t resolve it in a healthy way. We use shouting, fists, and manipulation to resolve the issue instead of talking it out.

But, let’s try and help conflict build a new and better reputation. No longer does it need to conjure-up negative feelings. Instead, I’m advocating for BETTER conflict that leads to better conflict resolution.



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