Many people engage in this harmful practice without realizing how detrimental it is to relationships. They do it under the guise of being nice and not wanting to rock the boat. More times than not, it has the opposite effect and over time it tips the boat over. Avoiding conflict is killing relationships throughout the world. Regardless of whether avoiding conflict shows up as silence, placating, lying, pretending or over-accommodating, the truth is that it poisons relationships.
Every time you become angry or upset about a situation, interaction or person, yet say nothing, you have poisoned the water. Each time you say you’re “fine” when you’re really angry, you’ve poisoned the water. Any time you shut down a conversation because you don’t want to talk about something, you poison the water. Every day you act as if things are fine when, inside, you’re stewing, unhappy or fed up with the relationship, you’re adding poison to the well. Every time you decide to not say anything because you’re certain “it won’t change anything,” you’ve poisoned the water.
No relationship can survive in any healthy way without honest discussions. Far too many people hold things in, share half-truths, deny being upset and generally show up dishonestly in their relationships in the hopes of avoiding upsetting anyone. All these unspoken upsets—likely very minor at first—build up. Over time, these “kind” omissions become tremendous resentments. Getting past a minor upset is easy; healing from a year’s or decade’s worth of resentments is not.
If your go-to move is to avoid conflict at all costs, then realize that your relationship is going to have a very short shelf life. Enjoy the early years and soak those in because they will soon pass. The daily poison you have dripped on your relationship by avoiding honest conversations will eventually do significant damage. If you continue to carry this move into future relationships, you will meet the same fate.
Avoiding conflict seldom results in less conflict . . . in the long run. Avoiding a hard conversation today may keep things calm for now, but over time it will only escalate the problem. There are many ways to have hard conversations without escalating things. Every way, however, starts with having the conversation and being compassionately honest about what is going on for you and what you want. Dare to have the conversation. Dare to step in as authentically, respectfully and compassionately as you can. Speak your truth with a Grounded Powerful Strength (https://lisamerlobooth.com/power-from-within-versus-power-over/) and give your relationship a true chance of thriving. You will feel better for it and your relationship will strengthen because of it.
Challenge: Change your way of thinking regarding avoiding conflict. Recognize this pattern as an unhealthy pattern that you need to learn to eradicate from your relationships. Dare to be real and have the hard conversations in your life.