Why conflict is good.

I’m not entirely sure why people think conflict and wars are inherently bad. I agree that they’re not entirely pleasant most times, but it doesn’t mean that their nature is bad.

Conflict is often necessary

Conflict is necessary because humans will never see eye to eye with each other perfectly. It is crazy to assume that we will all want the same thing. Agreed? Therefore, we’ve got to come together and negotiate something that would be acceptable to all parties. The dictionary term for this negotiation where each party wants different things is “conflict”.

If you don’t want conflict you can avoid it, but it generally means that you’re letting the other person have his way. That’s fine when the matter is a small one, like when someone takes your pen without asking you. It’s not fine when it’s something bigger like trying to hurt you or humiliate you. This would be a situation where I would advise for you to engage in conflict, and not to shy away.

Levels of conflict

Conflict has many levels. It can mean verbal conflict which includes calm discussions at a negotiation table or shouting matches between the bedroom and the kitchen. It can also mean physical conflict where you punch the lights out of someone (or he punches your lights out).

Either way, conflict is good. It settles disagreements. And humans will always have disagreements. The only real problem I see in conflict is the problem of calibration.

Calibrating your response

Any disagreement should see the appropriate response of conflict from you. Borrowing your pen without asking might just require a few soft words of warning. A person trying to rip off you might require a little yelling. A person trying to hurt you would probably require a bit of hurting back.

A group of people trying to jump you in a dark alley would probably best be responded with a baseball bat and the willingness to beat them half to death. Although some people would just say to me, “Violence breeds violence. Just respond with peace.”

Respond to conflict with peace?

I feel that this is complete bullshit. You can sit there while someone is pounding your face in. Or hurting your family. Or insulting your faith. I believe in having a bit of conflict. Even in marriage you’ll have conflict with your spouse. It’s impossible to agree 100% with each other. Ideally you’d engage in a little conflict and work things out. Or you could say “OK, honey” and grow a seed of anger deep inside.

Embracing conflict

If conflict comes to you, don’t avoid it, embrace it. Use it to ensure that your side is heard. Don’t run away from it. If someone is pissed off at you, don’t avoid them, go and meet them (unless you pissed of a Jedi. Don’t mess with Jedi).

However, all things said, conflict is still unpleasant for you and the other party. So do yourself a favour. If conflict comes to you, embrace it. But don’t go looking for it. After all, why would you WANT to make your wife/family/friends pissed off at you?

4 thoughts on “Why conflict is good.

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  3. Kye

    Calibrating response! brilliant.

    the pen is mightier than a sword, only if it's not an actual pen to sword conflict. Anyone who thinks they might win battling against an armed man with their iPad should better be wearing some kind of steel armor.

    I forgot who told me, maybe it was Jan, that arguments are also a form of communication. Conflict between people is definitely necessary at times, since we can even have conflicts with ourselves.

    Something I've learned in my first few months of marriage is choosing my conflicts wisely. No one wants to be confronted consistently– picking to engage in the right conflict at the right time is also a form of measuring response. Knowing when a conflict requires someone to disarm (albeit, unnecessarily) for resolve is also important.

    1. Lutfi Post author

      Thanks! I got the idea for using the word calibration from somewhere else. There they were using it more on the idea of how much "energy" (enthusiasm) you should put in a conversation.

      Keeping your energy too low makes people feel like you're boring. Too high and you seem hyperactive. The ideal level is to take the energy of the group you're conversing with and either match it or go just a teeny bit higher. They termed this calibration. It seemed a good fit here too.

      I can see what you mean about marriage. No use fighting about every little thing. It's only the stuff that matter that are worth fighting about. There's an interesting piece I read once about not compromising too early though. It apparently takes away your other options including the option of collaborating to create an alternative solution that you can both appreciate. I'll probably blog more about it some other time.

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