I really don’t like conflict. In fact, I try to avoid it as much as possible. But unless you’re a hermit or a monk, chances are you’ll deal with interpersonal conflict at some point. You just have to learn to deal with it.
In trying to see the positives of arguing, I was pleasantly surprised at what I discovered. I hope these realizations help you see the bright side of your next conflict.
If someone is upset with you, it shows they care. Likewise, if you’re upset with someone, it’s likely because you care. I’ve heard therapists say that arguments often arise between couples or family members due to a longing for passion or closeness.
It’s not the most pleasant way to engage, but arguments are a form of emotional contact. If you didn’t value each other’s opinion or presence in your life, you might just dismiss each other rather than engage in conflict. Try to take it as a compliment and proof that there is genuine caring in your relationship. There are actually positives to conflict:
1. If you see the conflict through to a resolution, you can grow closer.
Conflict can actually be a good test for the resiliency of your relationship with someone. Is your relationship strong enough to stand up to the bumps in the road? If you can recover from a disagreement or hurt feelings and connect again, you may find you are even stronger than you were before. Conflict can often make or break a relationship, which can be a blessing in disguise.
2. Conflict presents an opportunity to be vulnerable.
You may have to admit that you made a mistake, that you were wrong, or that your actions hurt another person. Or you may have to tell someone that he or she has hurt your feelings. This is rarely easy. However, being vulnerable helps us grow. And many of us don’t often have the opportunity to be that vulnerable.
When you can move past defensiveness into vulnerability, you may expose a deeper place within yourself that doesn’t often see the light of day. And there is immense power in communicating with authenticity from that vulnerable place.
3. Conflict can spark positive change.
You may have heard the saying, “necessity is the mother of invention.” I think conflict creates a kind of necessity. When an argument reaches a climax, something’s gotta give. And that’s when creativity and problem-solving come into play.
You may come up with a brilliant solution to an ongoing problem that you didn’t see before, or reach new heights of collaboration with someone that you wouldn’t have without the conflict.
Although I have no intention of welcoming more conflict into my life, I am doing my best to see each challenge that arises as an opportunity to improve myself and deepen my relationships.
As uncomfortable as this may be, I know that moving through conflict is an important part of growing as a person. I think of those around me as the rocks that I bump up against from time to time, so that all of us can be polished into shiny gems.