Have you ever ignored a situation that would have been better dealt with directly? Then do you find yourself addressing situations that are better left alone? Maybe you’ve experienced occasional success with both scenarios? How can you improve your success rate of effectiveness?
In Communicating Beyond Differences one of the tools discussed addresses when to deal with conflict directly and when it’s best to let it alone.
First, know that conflict is a natural part of life and our job is not to get rid of it. Our job is to recognize it as an opportunity, manage it successfully, and learn from it. Conflict does not have to be intense or create a high stress reaction. Often it’s simply a chance to clarify and be more effective in our interactions.
Then, when deciding to deal with a situation directly or not, consider the following three questions:
1 – Will it result in clarification?
2 – Will it identify solutions?
3 – Will it build cooperation and reduce stress (long term)?
If any of these answers are a “yes” that is a situation to deal with directly. When all three answers are “no” that is a situation that is better left to time, Universe, God (depending on your belief).
Now for the gray area; how will you know if clarification will result, or if solutions will be identified, or if cooperation will happen? Well, there’s no guarantee. What we do know is that a person’s communication skill level will determine their answers. So the more you work to improve yourself, the better outcomes you’ll create. By the way, talking all day every day does not mean one is working on their communication! Want proof . . . do you know someone who opens their mouth and it’s really scary?
You may also need to revisit the criteria for the same situation more than once as some situations take time to resolve. Every few weeks to a month is a good guide since variables could be changing. Daily review would be excessive and would probably only cloud the issue.
Let me expand for a moment on the notation “long term” in the third question. Think of dealing with conflict as rototilling a garden. In other words, often when we address an issue it’s uncomfortable; we may feel as if we’re on unstable ground, and even doubt if we made a good choice. However, in the long run, a better crop results from soil that’s been rototilled than from soil that has not. Please note this is not the same as bulldozing!
Have you ever been in a situation that was challenging while it lasted but eventually resulted in a benefit?
Sure, therefore remember, just because it doesn’t feel great instantly, or everyone involved isn’t happy immediately, doesn’t imply dealing with the situation directly wasn’t the best decision.
And the irony is ignoring a situation that needs dealing with is uncomfortable too . . . and ineffective!
So, what have you been interfering in that would be better left alone? What needs your attention that you’ve been avoiding? And what if you changed where you’re applying your energy?