Conflict is an unfortunate beast that we all have to deal with in our lives. Some people deal with it better than others but unfortunately, I don’t really count myself among those people. There are several ways that have been documented throughout the years in which people deal with conflict. Here is a nifty chart that shows how people typically deal with conflict (for reference it’s called the Compass of Shame):
Pretty interesting huh? I fall mostly on the avoidance section of this compass. My family typically just avoids talking about most of our problems (which is one of the things I dislike about our dynamic) and this has brought me up to avoid conflict at all costs. In most scenarios, I will do what I can to keep from being involved in conflict but I have had a few shining moments in which I have faced it head on and come through somewhat unscathed.
One particular conflict that comes to mind is when I was living in Miami, Florida. My now wife and I were working together at a Catholic church singing in the masses. We worked there for several months without any issue but one day out of nowhere, the person in charge of the music comes to us with all of the complaints and says that he has to fire my wife. We spent about an hour or two pleading with our music director and trying to get him to reconsider because we had heard no complaints and thought these issues were unfounded. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t relent and I was left with a choice. He was allowing me to stay on but my wife could no longer work there. I discussed all of this with him at length but it became obvious to me that he had ulterior motives and was trying to get rid of my wife for his own reasons. I was very upset and uncomfortable throughout this entire ordeal, but I stuck with it and made the clear decision to leave the job as well since my wife was being treated so unfairly.
Overall, I feel like I handled this conflict pretty well even though all of our pleading and questions didn’t have any effect. My actions didn’t improve the situation at all but I felt proud about my handling of the situation even though the outcome was undesirable. Also, I know that I made the right decision to stand by my wife and leave the position so I would certainly not change any of my actions if I had to relive the situation. This conflict really stuck with me because it was somewhat out of character for me to face this kind of thing head on. When I am faced with difficult situations now I try to remember that time and find the strength and mental calm that I had in that situation. This is the bar that I try to set for myself with conflict in my life. I know I’m not always perfect but I do what I can to not revert to my habit of avoidance.