“Peace is not the absence of conflict…”

“Peace is not the absence of conflict, but the ability to cope with conflict by peaceful means.”

Ronald Reagan


No one I know really looks forward to conflict. If you’re like me, you might even cringe a little at the word. This is due to the fact that it is often associated with a dysfunctional interaction. The mismanaged conflict that many of us are familiar with is a closed system where new ideas, inspiration, and understanding can’t get in. It is fear-based and leads to isolation, animosity, resentment, and other oppressive behaviors. False perceptions of reality begin to emerge in this environment, and decisions based in this fantasy can be truly catastrophic.

Here are a few common red flags:

  • Anger-free arenas don’t exist.
  • Honest input is dismissed.
  • Situations are extreme and spoken of in all or nothing terms.
  • Extreme behavior is justified with excuses.
  • People are either all good or all bad.
  • Problems are always because of the ‘bad people’.

However, when healthy conflict is occurring, everyone gets a voice to express new ideas and strategies, concerns or fears or simply ask for advice and know that they’ll be heard and respected. Through this honest exchange of opinion, there’s an overall increase in creativity, productivity, commitment and morale. Relationships become more respectful, honest, understanding and meaningful. And, ultimately, we learn more about our family, our team, our employees, and, most importantly, ourselves.

Only one element needed to create this space – the humility to accept that others’ perspectives can help me refine my own.

Although I still may not be able to say I always look forward to conflict, I can say I value relationships enough to fully embrace the discussion that is needed to protect and promote them.

Even while the world is in so much turmoil, you have permission to enjoy, celebrate, honor, and be grateful for what is right and good in your life. But, at the same time, keep creating and thriving in those safe spaces that allow for the healthy discord that we all need to lead to the peaceful solutions we all love.

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Dawn Delahunty