Given the stressors many people are experiencing these days, the potential for conflict between people is ever-present. Even with good intentions, it is easy to get into conflict with others. We need to be careful to not involve ourselves in disagreements when we are not directly involved, not when we are bystanders with an opinion about what is going on or being said. I am reminded of the quote, “Stay in Your Own Lane.” Other ways to word this are, “Not My Pig, Not My Farm.” Also, “Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys.”
A dear speaker friend, Elizabeth Jeffries, made the following statement many years ago, about the responsibility of speakers. “As a speaker, my responsibility is to comfort the disturbed, and disturb the comforted.” Most likely my readers fall into one of these categories, either needing to be disturbed or needing to be comforted. Hopefully, the ideas below will be helpful.
- When hearing a conversation/conflict between others, stay out of it if it doesn’t concern you. This includes keeping your opinion to yourself unless someone asks your opinion, then be very careful how you word your answer. It does not matter how strongly you feel about what is being said, if you are not a part of the conversation, stay out of it.
2. If you observe a conflict between two people, stay out of it. If you jump into it, you can be assumed to be taking sides, which is not a place you want to be.
3. If you ask someone’s opinion, listen to their answer without reacting, getting defensive, or aggressive. Even when you are hearing something that you do not agree with or that is hurtful. If you asked their opinion and they give you an answer, you do damage when you exhibit these behaviors. You do not have to agree with them, and their opinion may in fact be wrong. But that is not the point. The point is you asked, and they answered. Assume they are honestly answering your question, with no agenda other than that.
4. When having a disagreement with another person, keep your cool and act like a reasonable adult. Do not create a scene. It matters not if you think you are justified in your behavior. Act like an adult in control of your behavior.
5. Do your very best to not feel or act defensively. Remember Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements. Agreement #2 is: “Don’t Take Anything Personally.” Agreement #3 is: “Don’t Make Assumptions.” Living by these 2 agreements can keep us out of a lot of trouble.
6. Regardless of who is most in the wrong when a conflict has occurred, the responsibility to make peace falls on the one who is able to. Even if she is the one who has been wronged. Even when what was done or said is not fair. Even when every fiber in you wants to hold on to it. Even when you know you will not soon forget the hurt. Even when doing so gives you no guarantee of being able to repair the damage that was done. Relationships are complex and complicated. People are at different stages of emotional maturity and mental stability. If you are able to reach out and begin to repair the damage, do it. Just because you can. Because everyone can’t.
Where are you in this? Are you comforted by the points made, or are you disturbed by them? Do you think that if you model this behavior, you might have less conflict with others?
As often happens, I write for myself as much as for others. This one certainly falls in that category.