There are probably only very few people who don’t want to avoid a conflict. There is nothing pleasant about a conflict itself and there is no need to want a conflict.
Conflicts are situations in which one may find oneself. They are situations in which it becomes evident that those involved have differing ideas and have become aware of the difference. In other cases, it is a situation in which people are aware of these differences and believe that they are incompatible. Another perspective on a situation that is perceived as a conflict is when people notice differing ideas and believe that they must agree on them or find an agreement.
In essence, these are situations in which difference seems to become an obstacle and is seen as something to be overcome.
It begs questions about one’s relationship with different perspectives, ideas, desires, or opinions.
It rarely is difference that creates a perception that something is a conflict. It is entering a conversation with an “me vs them” mindset. It is the sense that the conversation becomes a power game with an outcome of one losing to the other.
What can the desired outcome of dealing with such differences be?
If difference is transformed into agreement or similarity, will it contribute to a greater sense of certainty or felt safety? Or is difference perceived as something that must change? Or is it the other way around, that similarity brings a sense of safety as it is perceived as something that will not change?
And, if overcoming difference isn’t the task, how can it be received?
A way to look at difference is that it can be an indicator of ideas one didn’t have oneself. Another way to look at differences may be to become aware of situations in which ideas, desires, or opinions will have to be revisited. Often, such elements have no relevance until the context changes sufficiently to make them relevant, and it is only then that there is enough information to revisit the difference and explore if it still exists.
Usually, things will have evolved. In the new situation, other priorities may apply and make the differences irrelevant compared to what one had imagined. And if it didn’t there might still be new options to be discovered that transform the path forward and allow agreements that would not have been possible before.
Whatever happens, having mentioned the differences will have opened a field of possibilities that had not been there before. And should there have been unsurmountable obstacles, they would have become visible and could have been addressed.
Sadly, most often what happens is that a conflict emerges because what was an unsurmountable obstacle was kept out of sight.