Photo by jppi on Morgue File
You’re in the middle of a terrible argument, and everyone turns to you to help resolve it. How do you respond? How do you react to conflict?
I’m not a confrontational person. I have never liked conflict and so I tend to shy away from it. It seems that most conflicts are much ado about nothing. Given a little time, the issue soon passes and everyone is back to normal. This being the case, why should I make a big deal out of the conflict that will be a distant memory soon enough anyway?
Perhaps it is my personality. I am a laid back type of person. I live and let live. There is not much that shocks me or even irritates me. In fact, usually the more a person tries to shock and awe me, the more I yawn and lose interest.
As I have aged, I have come to accept that some conflicts need intervening. Some issues do need to be dealt with and neutralized.
I think one of my problems is that I have an innate ability to see many different sides to any and every argument. This makes it difficult for me to take sides sometimes. On the one hand, I see the value and legitimacy of argument A; but, on the other hand, I can turn around and see the merits of argument B. This is why I usually don’t make rash, hasty decisions. I insist on having time to think through a matter. I need the time to consider, analyze and reanalyze the information.
I am not an emotional thinker. I don’t hear and react. I don’t allow my emotions to boil over and take over my mental facilities. The problem with this, if indeed it is a problem, is that most people expect a quick and instant answer to their conflict. I usually cannot give them what they want.
I have people who become frustrated with me because of this. They will ask me my opinion on something, typically involving a conflict or argument and I will simply answer, I don’t know. They will ask again, thinking I didn’t hear them correctly. My answer will be the same. At this point, they will say something like, You mean to tell me, you don’t have any opinion at all on this? And I will gently and unemotional say, No I don’t. I don’t form opinions unless I have had a chance to think through the issue for myself. This apparently irritates some people!
Now obviously, there are some conflicts that seem fairly straight forward. There are those arguments where one side is clearly right. These aren’t the type of conflicts I have in mind here, however. I am thinking more of those difficult conflicts. Those arguments where thought must be given.
As a parent, the conflicts I typically have to mediate are between my daughters. Again, these are usually straight forward. Daughter A has taken Daughter B’s toy, causing Daughter A to have a livid fit. Or Daughter A is aggravating Daughter B, so dad has to step in and quell the bugging.
It is during such interventions, I try to teach a life-lesson. I try to give them something positive to take away from the incident, not just a lecture or a scolding. Teaching young children to be thoughtful of their bigger/little sisters, or sharing with their possessions, or selflessness is not an easy task. It is not an easy thing being a parent!
Do unto your bigger/little sister as you would have her do unto you, seemingly sounds like a foreign language to my daughters. I might as well be speaking some alien dialect to them!
However, persistence is a key ingredient to being a good, structured parent. It is something I am having to learn as I go. It’s what is called OJT: On the Job Training.