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Fear of Conflict... SPEAK OUT! It will only lead to frustration if you don’t overcome it.

Everyone is different – different personalities, opinions, values, beliefs, tastes, backgrounds. This variety makes life interesting. But it inevitably leads to conflicts.

Article Topic: Anxiety

Written by: Kirstie Salter

One of the ways we are different from each other is that some of us are comfortable with conflict while others are not! Many people will do anything they can to avoid any kind of disagreement, confrontation or difference of opinion. If you are one of those people then life can get tricky – avoiding conflict with others is sure to cause conflict within yourself!

What makes us like this?

It could just be the type of person we are. Some personality types, those of us that are more task focused, are quite happy to push their point of view or agenda even when they know it will upset others – getting their own way is more important than being liked! Other personality types, those that are more people focused, put a lot of value on relationships and will refrain from speaking their mind if they believe it will make them unpopular or cause bad feeling. Some people have agreeability in their DNA – and others don’t.

Then again, our background and upbringing may explain our aversion to conflict and our desire to please people. If we grew up in an authoritarian environment that was dismissive or hypercritical, where we were expected to be obedient and not challenge the views or actions of others, then we’ll probably become someone who is fearful of negative reactions from others – asserting, or even daring to express, a different view will be something we find scary.

An awful lot of people fall into one or other of these two categories – fear of conflict is very common. If we are of a compliant personality type, and also also grew up in the kind of situation just described, then we’ll be especially keen to be seen as the “nice person” in the room.

How does this fear manifest itself?

At work you’ll be the one that tends to agree with the majority opinion, that goes with the flow and doesn’t rock the boat. If you think something is unfair, like a less capable colleague being promoted above you or paid more, someone taking credit for your ideas and efforts, or the boss piling extra on you or making unrealistic demands, you don’t complain or push back.

In relationships, when there’s an awkward subject that needs discussing, you put off that conversation as long as you can. When something upsets you, instead of verbalising your feelings, you go silent. When an uncomfortable topic comes up you change the subject rather than engaging with it. You let your partner take the lead and go along with whatever they want to do.

What’s wrong with this?

In the short term you’ll feel better – because the last thing you want is to have an argument or become unpopular. In the long term, however, you’ll feel worse – a lot worse! That’s because it involves bottling up your true emotions and denying who you really are. Outwardly you’ll appear fine but inside there will be festering resentment, frustration and anger – not just with the other person but at yourself for letting it happen. You are diminishing your own sense of self-worth and actually inviting more of the same behaviour from others that started your negative feelings in the first place. Failure to clear the air can make you withdrawn, leading to a sense of loneliness, inadequacy and depression.

Eventually your emotions will boil over and instead of handling the discussion in a calm and sensible way you’ll over react – which is a big shock to those who thought you were so nice! All of this is very upsetting for someone for whom building good relationships, and getting along with people, is so important.

How I can help

Helping you overcome these issues (while continuing to be the nice person you really are!) is something I specialise in. We begin with a discussion of those areas in your work and home life where conflict avoidance is most bothering you. Then we reframe it. Because you have a fear of conflict you’ll see the negative possibilities – instead of positive ones.

I’ll ask you how you’d like the conversation to go and what kind of response you’d welcome from the other person. We’ll then work together on imagining and visualising that positive outcome. This will banish the negative picture that your primitive brain, replying previous conflicts from your past, keeps scaring you with.

Tired of being nice to everyone… except yourself? Let’s book a session and get you sorted. Call +44 (0) 7966 517708.



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