Learning to tolerate conflict

There are many people who believe themselves to be peacemakers because they avoid conflict at all costs.  But peacemakers don’t avoid conflicts, they walk through them in order to find peace – if not an actual resolution.  To be a peacemaker, you must learn to tolerate conflict – even when that means having someone mad at you!  (This doesn’t mean tolerating abuse from someone who is upset.  Leave the room, the building, the area or whatever  you need to do to get away should you find yourself involved in a conflict with someone who is being abusive.  And don‘t apologize for it!)

To start learning to tolerate conflict, first try speaking up for yourself in a situation where you would normally keep quiet.  Sometimes we are so conflict adverse, we hesitate to even mention our preferences or opinions.  Start challenging yourself to just speak up for yourself in little things like food or entertainment preferences.  Make up an opinion if you don’t actually have one!  Just learn to say what you think without being afraid of causing offense or disagreement.

Of course, the reason people hate conflict is because you can’t just say your piece and have everyone jump up and down with praise and agreement.  (My preferred reaction to whatever I say!)  People will push back and this is where we can lose it.  But if you usually back down at this point, just take a deep breath and state your case calmly.  Listen, pause to think, respond.  If you are not used to conflict you will almost certainly find that you are better at dealing with it than you thought you would be.  But you don’t get to peace by backing down.  Be willing to walk through the discomfort of disagreement – it is your chance to learn to make peace from discord!

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