Whenever I fly from Seattle to Portland, the flight path takes us near Mt. St. Helens. Being from Washington, I remember when she blew her top in May 1980. I’m amazed how much the dome has grown to replace to former top. It’s conceivable in my lifetime to see Mt. St. Helens whole as she was before. OK, maybe not, but it’s gonna be close.
Conflict should be dealt with while issues are small and the emotions haven’t grown to the explosive power of a full blown eruption. Conflict inappropriately dealt with leads to affronting not confronting. Once that occurs, the damage takes years to recover if it ever does.
The establishment and enforcement of proper boundaries is our responsibility. Respecting another’s boundaries is our responsibility as well. When enforce our boundaries it may require us to have difficult conversations, but having those conversations prevents the pressure underneath the surface from building.
So what prevents us from having these conversations? We convince ourselves that the other person should know better. Whether it’s someone we are dating or a co-worker we think if that person is paying attention they’ll figure it out. Don’t assume they do. We don’t know what the other person is thinking or perceiving. Engage the other person in dialogue and suspend judgement as they explain how they perceive their behavior.
Another reason we don’t confront the issue is we hope it just goes away. I have never had it just go away without walking away completely from the relationship. Depending upon the situation that may be the proper solution. But by the 80 – 20 rule, 80% of the relationships we are engaged in are salvageable. Part of maintaining any relationship is to deal with issues. People do change, but there is usually a catalyst to that change.
Every time our peace is disturbed by another’s behavior or actions, there is an opportunity to learn about ourselves and the other person. This is why confrontation is a necessary part of life. Don’t walk away from these opportunities.