conflict avoidance

The Problem With Conflict Avoidance: It’s Not Always a Good Thing

It may be hard to believe, but backing away from every personal conflict can be just as damaging as anger issues.

While it might seem like a pacifistic option, this conflict avoidance strategy can backfire in the long-term, leaving you (and those around you) exhausted and confused. After all, how can you resolve conflicts that are avoided? How can you find common ground when you can’t speak about it?

If you clam up and walk away as your go-to strategy, it’s time to stop avoiding conflict for the good of your health and your relationships. Here’s why it matters.

What Is Conflict Avoidance?

As the name suggests, conflict avoidance is when one party makes a conscious decision to avoid conflict. When they see a potential issue on the horizon, or when they feel intense emotion, they silently withdraw rather than engaging the other party.

People who avoid conflict may do so for any number of reasons. They may do it because they’re afraid of seeming emotional or aggressive, or because they don’t want to risk being disliked. They may do it as a method of preserving the peace or “people-pleasing,” or they may simply need time to process their emotions.

Also, people accustomed to violent or abusive environments may instinctively avoid conflict. This includes children raised in abusive households, as well as the spouses of those who resort to domestic assault and battery.

In other words, it’s important to acknowledge the reasons why you or someone you know may avoid conflict, as this can be a critical step toward learning to tackle conflict in a healthier way.

Why Is It Not Healthy to Avoid Conflict?

When you hide your emotions away, you’re not addressing the problem at hand. This can result in several damaging consequences:

  • You might learn to blame yourself for problems instead of dealing with them
  • You might cause intimacy issues that drive away loved ones who can’t tolerate a lack of conflict resolution
  • Your avoiding conflict can be taken as implicit agreement, even when you disagree
  • When you avoid conflict, people may misread this as an attempt to ignore them, or assign other negative emotions to the lack of action
  • In general, bottling up emotions can increase our loneliness, depression, and even the risk of premature death

If you’ve conditioned yourself to avoid conflict whenever possible, it can be hard to overcome the habit. However, it’s crucial to cultivate conflict resolution skills if you want to have healthy relationships in life. Make an effort to reframe your approach to conflict, and consider reaching out for professional therapy if this struggle is affecting your life.

Find Healthier Approaches to Conflict

Conflict avoidance can be a difficult skill to unlearn, especially if you haven’t had the best models for good conflict resolution in the past. But taking the time to understand why you avoid conflict, and how to approach conflicts healthily, can help in the long run. Don’t be afraid to make your voice heard!

Want more of the tips you need to succeed in life? Check out our other posts for more helpful insights.

 

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Christophe Rude

Christophe Rude

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