When voices rise and conflict escalates, do you step forward and engage? Or step back and assess? This post is for people who favor the latter, and for those who live and work with them. I’ll give you another two-step for conflict resolution, a practical strategy when engagement is difficult.
Conflict Avoidance is Good
Let’s start by honoring “step back and assess” as a response to conflict. Life brings endless friction. We are confronted, goaded, and obstructed from every corner. It’s hard to get through even a day without someone or something in our face.
In chronically contested space, engaging all challengers is impossible. When someone gives you the finger for your unexpected shift of lanes while driving, do you pull over to talk things through? Hardly. What would be the point? You shrug, mutter to yourself, ignore the jackal, and drive on.
So the arts of skillful avoidance are essential to survival: Silence, distance, non-involvement, non-responsiveness, impassiveness, circumspection, studied neutrality, inaccessibility, biding your time. All have a place as strategies to avoid battles not worth the cost of fighting or for which we are poorly prepared.