Conflict resolution, and arguably more importantly conflict management is essential if you are going to get anywhere in life.
To navigate the trials of life, let alone be able to rise above them, the ability to deal with conflicts: which come in a variety of forms, both and external and internal are vital. There is really no away around this.
How good (or not) a person is at dealing with problems, obstacles, set backs both major and minor, in life, come down to conflict management. But what does the idea of dealing with conflict, at the level of action, mindset and in its social character, in relationships, come down to?
Well that’s what we are here to explain. However take note, that idea of conflict management and resolution is not a simple mater of dealing with disagreements and problems that are in front of you.
For even the idea of dealing with conflicts is often not really a function of what you are faced with in front of you but what lies beneath it all.
OK. With that short intro behind us, let’s get into it.
What are Conflicts?
In the First Book of Samuel, David, who at the time was on the run from King Saul, whom he would succeed, entered the wilderness and camped near the property of a wealthy man named Nabal.
In this time David and his cohort of men provided protection for Nabal’s property and treated his workers well, and in return, as a gesture of kindness asked the wealthy property owner for food and drink. This request was made with earnest and humility.
Nabal being the selfish and arrogant fool, dismissed the request and in turn proceeded to insult David and his men.
David, in case the reader did not know, was a warrior. That besides slaying the giant goliath had featured in many battles with countless victories. David, despite being a man of justice was not someone who took such insults laying down and duly proceeded to avenge the fault with the sword.
Learning of this, the smart and beautiful Abigail, the wife of Nabal took action. Recognizing her husband’s fault, and the kindness of David and his men, she loads up a vast quantity of food and other supplies and hurried to meet the future king.
Upon meeting him, she asked pardon for her husband’s mistake and provides the men what they needed. David spares Nabal and accepts her gift. Soon after Nabal dies of a stroke and Abigail become David’s wife. Fairy ending? Kind of.
Alright. So what does the Biblical tale teach us about conflict. Well for starters it is best to avoid them.
If you think about it, there is no limit to the number and reasons for conflict in a given day.
Provided you are not some hermit, or has choses to live with little or no human contact. Conflicts are just waiting to happen. Of course, the consequences for staring a ‘conflict’, maybe not as severe in present times. But they are ever present.
Why? Why are conflicts so prevalent? Well because we are human. We are different. We disagree. And often, we take our disagreements to the next (problematic level).
Conflicts occur because of disagreement. When there is a mismatch between outcome and expectation. When people are unable to find common ground. When one person’s goals, actions and beliefs are (or is believed to be) in conflict, with ones own.
Notice the language. Our beliefs about something or someone or what someone is doing. Often times the nature of conflict comes down to what we think about the nature and source of that which is causing harm, or is present as a hurdle.
The great Stoic philosopher Epictetus said: It isn't the things themselves that disturb people, but the judgements that they form about them’. Essentially all conflict can be reduced a state of mind. It is not what happens out there, but what goes inside your mind.
But wait, does that mean conflict is not a real thing; does conflict not exist?
Good question. But before we answer this properly, let’s look at the internal dynamics of conflict.
Conflict Within the Mind
Think of the last time someone said or did something you didn’t like. Either they lied, they cheated, they stole, or worse they caused some physical harm.
How did you react? Think about this for second.
At this point your mind will delve on one of two things: What you did in response, or what you could have done in response.
If you continue to ponder the matter, you will think of things you could have done differently, to ensure that what did happen, did not happen!
We’ve been there. Heck, we enter this state of mind more often than not.
The problem here is not with the state of mind itself, but how it comes affect your mindset, as you proceed to move forward with your life.
The notion that ‘What doesn't kill you makes you stronger’ whilst sounding good on paper requires a bit of work before it can be correctly internalised.
And let’s be real, not every conflict is going to necessarily make you stronger. Ask any guy who has been to war and survived an IED.
But what can, and should become stronger is your state of mind. For it is your state of mind that determines your happiness and well-being more than any other social or material condition.
But does how does this happen? How can the mind become stronger following conflict. For let’s be clear, not everyone comes out of conflicts, the physical or the mental kind, better off on the other side.
For often the reality is quite the opposite. So how does one not just deal with the various conflicts of life, but actually able to rise above them?
The Mindset for Dealing with and Overcoming Conflicts
Accept. But do not Surrender.
Mediate on the above words for a moment.
When it comes to the trials of life. Particularly those which harm, hurt or aggravate you, there are a number of ways you can react to them. I am sure the reader has his own ways of dealing with the various annoyances and tribulations that come their way.
Our focus here is on what you do BEFORE you make that call. On what you do before pressing that action ‘button’ in making that next step.
We’ve all heard of the importance of proactivity. The importance of being prepared, of being ready to deal with whatever that comes your way. But few of us have understood the importance of stillness in the face of trial. Silence in the face of hardship. To remained focused but not passive in the face of conflict.
To put it differently, no matter how prepared, awake and knowledgeable you are, or think you are things are going to happen that will test you. And will force a reaction from you. And what it does happen, how will you react. Or pertinently, in relation to the topic on conflict management, how will you NOT react.
Especially when things which didn’t seem conflictual at first, or at least do not appear to be potential sources of conflagration, turn out to be one.
So the idea of acceptance in the face of conflict is essentially a pause button. One that you have a-the ready in those moments where you can react in one of two or three ways. But before you do, recognizing the state of mind are you in, and critically on the kind of state of mind you need to enter before you make your decision.
When we use the word acceptance: it is about looking at reality for what it is. Accepting your present scenario, however adverse or unfavourable as it is. And THEN to start working towards a solution.
The key is in not reacting from the standpoint of ‘I didn’t get what I want’ hence. ‘Things didn’t go my way because that person said or did something’ as a result…
The right way to approach the many sources of conflict in life is to accept whatever wrong, or injustice that may have been done. To recognize your position. Know what cards you have at your disposal, and what are the potential outcomes based on the course of action. And then make a call.
The simple fact of life is there are no guarantees. Virtually every major decision comes down to gamble. With varying degrees of probability for success. Your job then is to recognize this and act accordingly.
The business of personal development, at a key level comes down to knowing the ways of increasing your chances of success in terms of these probabilities. The more you know the better decisions you are likely to make. The more informed decisions you make the better the outcomes.
Critically, when it comes to conflict, the better control you have over your state of mind, the more rational and grounded you will be in making those choices.
A key point on the subject of acceptance is that it should not be confused with timidity and surrender. The point that getting worked up and reactive weakens your ability to make thoughtful decisions does NOT mean making no decisions.
It does not mean passivity. What it means is that you recognize what you can control and decide accordingly. And yes. That may mean standing up to a bully or jumping into the ring with some knuckle head who has had too much to say for his own good. Just make sure you are prepared for what is to come.
‘Conflict’ with Women
Oh boy. If there is one thing that is a perennial source of conflict, confusion and everything in between, that would be the subject of the opposite sex.
Besides money and fitness nothing can get to men than well women.
Now it is no secret that a lot of men today, are having a hard time relating to the members of the opposite sex. The troubles of modern dating and the need for men to improve in this area is a point we have extolled.
In this context however we need to look at the state of mind of men who are trying to improve in this area, and failing. Or those are failing without even trying.
In 2019 in Manchester, a city in the U.K a young woman of 18, when returning from a night out with a friend, was approached by three men. The strangers having noticed her, expressed interest in the girl. But she did not reciprocate (1).
Their response was well, brutal. The young woman knocked out with a punch to the face, and her friend was also beaten.
Preliminary investigations revealed that the incident was sparked by the girl’s rejection of the men’s advances. And the price she had to pay for saying no, was a black eye and being left with the fear venturing out alone.
Terrible. But it is also thought provoking into the subject of conflict.
First off, when one encounters a story like this, the attention naturally and invariably shifts towards the plight of the girl or the victim. And rightly so. She is the one who has been subject to this ordeal. And the one who did this to her is undoubtedly wrong.
But what of the mindset of attacker? What state of mind was the guy in when he made the move. And what made snap and become an attacker.
The bloke who expressed his interest in this strange girl, only to be turned down. What did he do wrong? Well besides the crime of assaulting an innocent woman.
Well, for starters he reacted. He couldn’t take a ‘no’. He couldn’t accept the reality he was faced with and move forward.
Here we encounter another important point on the subject of dealing with conflict. Which is the importance of dealing with the battle within.
You see when it comes to conflicts, the sources of contention is not always the most obvious. It is not always some big bully or obnoxious line manager who is giving you a hard time. Warranting you to deal with them on the receiving end.
When it comes to conflicts which involves you as the instigator, how do you prepare for those? And when comes to the sources of these conflicts, nothing take the cake as the women.
To put this in context of conflict and resolution: when it comes to women, dating and relationships ‘conflicts’ are part of the game. There is simply no way to navigate this arena without encountering them.
From the moment you decide to approach that girl who catches your eye, to the first exchanges; from the moment to decide to move things forward by asking for her number or setting up a date, each of these moments open the door to disagreement. Where the chances for mismatch between your expectations and hers increases.
The question is how socially calibrated are you and underlying it, what kind of mindset do you bring into each of these interactions. And later on, if things get that far, within the relationships themselves. And even if you do manage to hit things off, women, if one may say so, will prove to be handful.
A girl telling you she’s not interested is one thing. But what if she simply ignores you? Or worse, tells you to f**k off! How will you react then?
Particularly, if you are among the guys, who in fairness, has taken the time to improve in this area of your life. Who wants to make a change in this area of your life, and takes action to see positive change.
The point is, when it comes to the opposite sex, in every step of the way, you, presuming you are the initiator and the one leading the relationship (if that is not the case, then it really doesn’t matter), you are bound to encounter opposition, disagreement, or even at times hostility.
Managing it from a position of strength is what separates the masculine men who remain strong and take charge, to the reactive ones who get mad at women at every opportunity. You know who I am talking about!
The Winners are Proactive Thinkers and Doers
Let’s go back to the tale of David and Abigail. Which is a story of contrasts. That of the passive arrogance of Nabal, to the thoughtful proactivity and humility of Abigail. And equally important, the restraint and level-headedness of David.
When David had made up his mind to make the selfish land owner pay, he could have chosen to ignore the initiative of his future wife. David, having the power and the will to do so, could have easily gone ahead and slaughtered Nabal and his servants, taken over his property and made the women into slaves (as it was often the practice in the ancient world).
But he didn’t. David stood by the principle of doing what is right at the given time, with information available in line with his convictions.
You see one the true strengths of a man at times comes down to Not doing something. At times it is about holding back. From not using your power even when you could.
When it comes to the business of women and dating, the true conflict that you have to master and overcome is the one that lies within you. No matter what a girl says or does, or how many rejections you experience, ultimately the decision to react (or quit) comes down to you.
In life, success is about doing what is right consistently, over a long period of time. Doing so requires recognizing that conflicts both big and small are a part of life. And that managing them, so that you can focus on doing what you must: learn, apply and grow.
This process whilst seemingly straightforward is harder in practice. Especially if you are someone who is not content with just navigating life and overcoming conflicts in personal and professional life. If you want to win in life, then it might be the right time to learn from a winner, who can give you the blue print for reaching success.
1. Yahoo Finance. 2019. ‘He knocked me out': Teen ‘punched in the face after rejecting men'. [ONLINE] Available at: https://tinyurl.com/3mbkpb84. [Accessed 18 October 2022].