Conflict and Confidence

Confident people do not seek conflict, nor do they shy away from it. They realize that conflict is an inevitable aspect of life. There will always be people whose beliefs differ from theirs…and ours. These differences open the door to conflict; yet confident people don’t allow differences to escalate to anger much less violence.

Confident approach to conflict

There are several reasons why confident people are able to avoid the escalation to violence.

First, they view differing perspectives as one of the keys to learning. They realize that If we all thought exactly the same way, there’d be nothing to learn. Confident people view learning as an essential element of their growth in skill, ability and awareness…all of which bring them joy.

Second, confident people are respectful of others’ opinions and beliefs. They realize that their knowledge isn’t, nor ever will be, complete. Pursuit of greater awareness and understanding results in a desire to hear what others think…whether or not they agree with those beliefs. This exploratory mindset is perceived by others as respect for their ideas, their beliefs. It also leads those with whom they interact to be more respectful of their views…a form of reciprocity.

Third, confident people don’t try to impose their views on others…even when they disagree. They understand that the harder they press their position, the more resistance they create. If they push hard enough, they are likely to trigger anger that could escalate to violence.
Their respectful agree-to-disagree approach avoids violent reactions.

At the same time, confident people don’t shy away from conflict…from others’ attempts to impose their will. Their resistance takes on a passive form. Instead of challenging the other person’s beliefs, they ask questions that cause the other party to reevaluate their position.

Because the questions are exploratory in tone (confident people always presume that they are missing information that would change their beliefs), the person with whom they’re dealing doesn’t feel threatened or challenged. The confident person’s goal is to find common ground on which resolution can be attained.

Another aspect of a confident person’s approach to conflict is that there is no judgment involved. Confident people do not view others’ beliefs and opinions as right or wrong. Nor do the view the person as good or bad. Instead, they realize that there is some validity to every position expressed. It’s how they are able to identify the keys to resolving conflict.

What does this mean for you and your kids?

For you

Here are some questions to evaluate your current style in dealing with conflict. When faced with a conflict do I:

  • Judge the other person or their position as being good or bad, right or wrong?
  • Challenge their thinking using facts and logic?
  • Try to impose my beliefs upon them?
  • In the absence of a resolution, write them off as someone who is impossible to deal with?

or

  • Consider the possibility that I’m could be wrong?
  • Ask questions that enable both of us to reevaluate our positions?
  • View their beliefs and perspectives as a way to increase your knowledge and awareness?
  • Seek areas of mutual agreement (common ground) on which we can jointly craft a resolution to the conflict?
  • Agree to disagree while respecting their right to their beliefs?

The answers to these questions will help you identify whether you’re prone to resolving or sustaining (possibly escalating) conflict.

If the second set of questions above is more indicative of your style, keep doing what you’re doing. You’re handling conflict well. In all likelihood you’re also building long-lasting, mutually-beneficial relationships with people whose beliefs are different than yours.

Conversely, if the first set of questions are representative of your approach to conflict and you want to become more adept at handling conflict, then it’s time to retrain your brain to utilize a new approach to conflict.

Begin by reminding yourself that conflict is healthy. That each conflict is an opportunity for you to gain knowledge and awareness that will serve you well into the future. Also remind yourself that challenging others’ thinking using statements of fact presented logically almost always results in defensiveness, greater resistance and more intense conflict. Finally, remind yourself that asking questions designed to gain greater understanding of the other person’s position deescalates the conflict and paves the way for mutual agreement. 

Each day, shortly after rising, mentally remind yourself of each of these elements of conflict resolution. Then, shortly before retiring in the evening, review your handling of conflicts that arose during the day. Pay attention to what you did well and what you learned in the process. Also note what you intend to do better in the future. This daily exercise, which only takes a few minutes each day, will dramatically improve your ability to deal with conflict effectively.

For our kids

As you observe kids’ handling of conflict, ask questions that enable them to become aware that:

  • Facts and logic trigger defensiveness, resistance and potentially violence.
  • Questions enable others to rethink their position without feeling threatened or challenged.
  • Demonstrate that there is some validity to every position.
  • Finding validity in others positions opens the door to conflict resolution.
  • Challenging escalates conflict whereas exploratory questions deescalate conflict.
  • Agreeing to disagree, respectfully, is always an option.

Helping kids deal with conflict effectively is also a great way to build their confidence.

Let others know that you love them by sharing this blog post. They’ll appreciate that you care.

I love hearing your thoughts and experiences, share your experiences in a comment.

If you’d like to enjoy great confidence, check out our Confidence Self-Study programs (opens in a new link). 

If you’d like to enrich the lives of others by teaching them to be more confident, check out our Teaching Confidence Instructor Certification program (opens in a new link).

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4 Responses

  1. Bill Prenatt

    Dale, I always appreciate the wisdom and simplicity that you bring to complex issues. Learning how to manage conflict has been a life long learning experience for me. I suspect that it will remain a challenge. Once I recognized the need to change and adapted new behaviors, I have improved significantly over the years.

  2. dfurtwengler

    Thanks, Bill. Managing conflict is, as you say, a lifelong endeavor for one simple reason: the emotion we experience in the moment of initial conflict. But, as you’ve experienced, it gets easier to set aside the emotion in favor of more productive approaches to dealing with conflict…like admitting our contribution to the problem and asking questions rather than making defensive statements.

  3. Thad James

    Excellent article! Conflict will always take place with differences in opinions. Handling conflict with confidence can lead to a better understanding of other viewpoints. As well as seeing other points of view can expand your own knowledge and awareness.

    • dfurtwengler

      Well said, Thad. You and all the others in our mastermind group share this attitude. It’s what has helped us all grow personally and professionally. Thanks for sharing.

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