Dealing with conflict is tough! Some days it seems like everyone is against you. No matter what you do, someone is offended and takes it personally. Then you take it personally. Then you start fantasizing about how you are going to get even. That night you talk to all your friends about what you ‘might do’ to teach the enemies a lesson. You don’t know how to resolve a conflict, so you plan for revenge instead. Then you take action and end up making wrong choices and ruining relationships. Have you ever done this?
Journal of Conflict Resolution
I have. One time I was at a campground which I have a membership to. I pulled into a spot assuming that my husband would check us in. The camp host got mad at me. Then I became mad at the camp host. Didn’t I pay lots of money for this membership every year? Wasn’t I supposed to be treated special and respectfully when I arrived? Wasn’t the camp hosts job to have good customer service and make our stay enjoyable? I wasn’t enjoying myself. I was experiencing a big knot in my stomach.
That evening my husband and I both griped to each other about how many rules the camp hosts were allowing to be broken by other campers while being so rude to us at the same time. I was almost ready to go around the campground and take photos of all the rule breaking just to validate my case.
But then I remembered something. I’m not the kind of person who does passive-aggressive communicating, like that would be. I am an assertive, understanding person who believes in fixing relationships and disagreeing appropriately. I understand conflict resolution strategies.
I prayed to have my heart softened and that I would find the right way to voice my thoughts without getting angry.
The next day I ended up parked in a beautiful country cemetery. While sitting there, a thought came to my mind. “Nicholeen, you know what it feels like to be stuck between regulation and customer service. You used to work for a cemetery and each day you had to keep regulations while trying to make that customer happy.” Memories of having to tell family members of deceased people “no” filled my mind. The feelings I felt years ago revisited me. Now I understood the people at the campground better.
Simple VS Complicated
After taking some time to understand the camp hosts at the park, I knew I needed to choose the simplest resolution to the conflict. I needed to be humble and apologize. By looking at my actions and emotions honestly, I knew I had acted out of character the night before and that I had not taken the time to see the other side of the situation. I had taken offense when I should have been kind and understanding. No matter how good my excuses were for taking that offense, it was still the wrong thing to do. I had to apologize in order to save the relationships, and to put my soul at rest.
I went to the office and explained that I understood their situation and responsibility as a steward of the campground, and that I was wrong to not be more kind to them. I apologized and described how important relationships are to me, and that I didn’t see this as any reason to damage a new relationship which could be good for years to come.
The camp hosts accepted my apology and smiled. Then they apologized, and explained to me that they had had a bad day the day before and didn’t want a strain in our relationship either. We parted with a kind hand shake and a closer relationship than we had ever had before, because now we accepted, loved, and understood each other. This was the simple way to respond to the relationship problem.
If I would have chosen the complicated path to relationship problem solving, I would have stayed angry, complained to the main office, not made eye contact in their presence, and made my visit to the campground miserable. Staying angry at someone takes a lot of energy and mental strain. It distracts us from doing useful things and disconnects us from the other people around us because it points our focus outside the family group.
When someone chooses the complicated path to resolving conflict, the problem doesn’t completely go away. They also choose to be controlled by anger and contempt; emotional reactions. Instead of being controlled by themselves; self-government. Happiness and peace really are choices. And, when these choices are made the person must be honest with herself.
Without honesty there is no conflict resolution. Honesty leads to humility, which leads to apologizing to another person. A person who holds on to anger is holding on to lies. The lies are that they don’t have any responsibility for the relationship problems. Even if a person wrongs you, you always have the responsibility for your side of the feelings of the relationship.
Miracle Anger Cure
So, what is the miracle anger cure? Honesty. It is simple to be honest. Sure, it may hurt, but in the end you always feel better. Honesty keeps us giving others the benefit of the doubt by making us humble. Honesty gives us power by changing our focus from other people to ourselves. Only when we look at ourselves as the means to solve our own problems can we actually make any progress. So long as people choose to see other people as the means to make them happy or sad they are in bondage; not only to their emotions, but to a lie as well.
Written by: Nicholeen Peck
Nicholeen’s Blog is www.TeachingSelfGovernment.com