DEALING WITH CONFLICT

Fr Jim Cogley


While a certain amount of conflict is inevitable in relationships, and is a necessary catalyst for growth, it so often gets out of hand and becomes divisive. When an argument begins and one party expresses his or her annoyance the other feels upset and usually defensive. The increase of verbal tone on one side is them met with an increased volume on the other. As this increases the capacity for hearing becomes correspondingly diminished. With both parties having lost their peace and unable to listen the row escalates. It may result in violence or eventually gives way to sullen silence and frustration. Even then both parties are pulling against each other and there is no understanding, growth or co-operation. A simple but challenging exercise is for just one party to consciously hold their peace and decrease their voice level in response to the aggressiveness and loudness of the other. By not allowing ourselves to be angered we remain in charge and don’t permit ourselves to be overpowered. From a place of peace we can even ask the annoying question, ‘what does it feel like to be so much out of control’? This amounts to a big statement about exactly ‘who’ is in control at that moment!