Conflict can be fun

by Ein Huie    

Although conflict is almost always scary, it can be very healthy. Through conflict we learn how to communicate more effectively and efficiently with others in a way that maintains a relationship with the person rather than tear it down. But what are the steps in resolving conflict? Who are the parties involved? This is where many people seem to veer off the track.

As a Resident’s Assistant (RA) in Duvall, I deal with conflict often. Each time I enter conflict I am worried about the outcome to some degree, but I have adapted to the point where I no longer fear it. I would actually say I enjoy conflict. More often than not, when someone comes to me to address some form of conflict with someone else, my first question is, “have you talked to the other person yet about this?” And just as I expect, the answer is almost always, “no, I thought that was your job” or “no, I am too worried about what they might say.” And so this continues with person after person. Not only is it apparent in this context of my job, but I have witnessed it all across the board in varying aspects of life.

People seem to want to address their conflict with others but they rarely go to the source of the problem. It doesn’t take much thinking or a rocket scientist to realize that this doesn’t make sense. Why do we seem to go to third and fourth parties to help us deal with conflict, rather than address it with the only other person (or groups of people) who are directly involved? It may have to do with the way that we have set up the residence hall systems. With residents having their resident assistants always at hand to solve problems, it can be easy to fall into a habit of going to someone else to solve your problems for you. Thus we end up turning to other people and third party individuals. This is how gossip starts and rumors spread: we don’t address conflict in the most direct way.

Next time you are met with conflict from a friend or a roommate, address the issue with that person and only that person. If you go to another friend, then you are unnecessarily bringing the assumed fault of your friend to someone who doesn’t need to hear it. By spreading the story and constantly asking others for help or advice, you are overloading your system by receiving multiple views on what you should do and how you should address the issue. Rather than seeking out multiple sources of advice, find one person who has authoritative wisdom and can walk with you in your conflict. Allowing multiple voices to offer you advice can be detrimental because then you end up sitting in the options for an extenuating period of time. This can progress and thus allow the situation to fester and grow silently until it becomes more of an emotional conflict rather than a situational event.

As someone who has been on all sides of the conflict, I can say with authority that it is very frustrating to not be addressed directly and privately when I am at fault or seemingly at fault. Just talk to the one person that needs to be addressed and leave everyone else out of it. Happy conflicting!

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