The value of conflict

Since I’ve pledged to write a new blog post every Wednesday and I’ll be on the road this particular Wednesday, I’ve written this one in advance. I’ll post an update of my adventures in Namibia when I get on-line for long enough. So this one is a bit more general and at the same time very personal.

I was just thinking about conflict and more about how I tend to stay clear of it. I know I’m not the only person who does this, I learned most of my conflict avoiding skills from my family while growing up. We were especially good in not feeling awkward not saying anything to each other for extended periods of time. And in my personal relationships more recently I see this is still my main coping strategy: avoiding saying anything wrong my not saying anything at all.

Which brings me to the point of this blog post, that conflict is sometimes (possibly even most of the time) more valuable than avoiding conflict by not saying anything. A deafening silence is much harsher than a good fight (I am talking fighting with words, not physically or psychological warfare, breaking someone with words). While verbal conflicts are a psychological strain, at least they offer an opening to resolving the base of the conflict, while silence just lingers on and becomes a huge weight that can crush a relationship.

It’s quite a cliché that communication is the most important part of any relationship, but it is also true. Knowing that doesn’t make it easier though for an introvert or anyone who has learnt to cope with stressful situations by going into oneself and not saying anything. I cannot say I know how to get past this, only that I am aware of the problems it poses and trying to work on it, one conflict at a time. Maybe in the future I will be able to give some useful tips if you recognize yourself in what I wrote here. And if you don’t, I hope you think of this next time you just want to talk it out and find the other party is giving you the silent treatment.

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