Dealing With Life’s Conflicts

   Written by on October 19, 2017 at 10:52 am
Cheryl Gowin and Dennis Gowin.  Call us at our counseling practice with your feedback, comments, issues, or questions at 434-808-2637.

Cheryl Gowin and Dennis Gowin.  Call us at our counseling practice with your feedback, comments, issues, or questions at 434-808-2637.

How are you at handling everyday conflicts? Are you asking, “What is a conflict?” A definition of conflict is the opposition between ideas and interests; the tension caused by differences. This tension is the source of much worry about what we should do, how things ought to be, and how others will react to our choices.

There are many decisions we make every day that involve some type of conflict. Will my family freak out if I quit football? What will my boss think if I put a religious bumper sticker on my car? How will my parents react if I change schools? Can I tell my mother-in-law we want to have Thanksgiving at our house? What is the best way to talk to my daughter about her choices regarding whom she dates?

When you are faced with the tension of a conflict, how do you handle the situation? Do you, in much detail and repeatedly, express your views on the situation? On the other hand, do you just turn away and hope the conflict goes away? Do you feel you have to convince everyone that your point of view is right? Or, do you keep your thoughts to yourself because you don’t want to offend anyone? Do you tell yourself if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all?

In any situation, conflict can arise. Let’s look at four ways to deal with the conflicts. In settling conflicts, the goal is to avoid the feeling that one side wins and the other loses. Remember, the goal is to deal with the tension of a conflict before it has done damage to your relationships.

The accommodating approach, basically, is giving the other person what they want. How important is the issue to you? Is keeping the peace more important? For example, your husband has a shirt he loves and you hate. He only wears it on Saturdays. Not nagging him about this shirt means you put this in the ‘it is not that important’ conflict management strategy.

The avoidance approach is similar to the accommodating approach by delaying or ignoring the issue. Is there a chance the issue may resolve itself? You think your sister and brother-in-law should use a different realtor to sell their house. An avoidance approach is not to offer your advice until they ask you about the situation.

Accommodating and avoidance approaches fall under the ‘pick your battles’ theme. Mandy Hale tweets “Pick your battles. You don’t have to show up to every argument you are invited to.”

The collaboration and comprise approach are used with issues that have to be resolved. When using one of these approaches it is helpful to keep the words of Harry Truman in mind, “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”

The collaboration approach is a team approach. This works well in dealing with issues within a family. The goal is to find an integrated solution acceptable to everyone. Of course, not all situations should be open for a vote. For example, there is no vote on texting and driving. However, the collaborative approach fits into solving conflicts related to setting school, work, and fun time schedules within a family. It can be productive and it is a means to help your kids build decision-making skills.

The compromise approach requires both sides of a conflict to give up elements of their position in order to develop a mutually acceptable solution. Building a new house is a great example of a compromise approach. Neither the husband nor the wife will get everything they want. Compromise is required.

To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. For, the one who desires life, to love and see good days, must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit. He must turn away from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. I Peter 3:8-11

About Cheryl & Dennis Gowin

Cheryl Gowin, Counselor and Dennis Gowin, Director of Discovery Counseling Center. Contact us with your feedback, comments, issues or questions at 434-808-2426 or


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