Hi everyone and welcome to Soul Food Episode 06. 

[You can watch it on the Soul Food with Mark Conner YouTube Channel or visit https://linktr.ee/markconner for other social media platforms]

We are currently talking about stress, with a specific focus on internal stress – the stress we carry on the inside of us. It’s one of the most subtle but dangerous types of stress.

Internal stress comes from a variety of sources, including unrealistic expectations and emotions that we don’t give attention to. 

Another source of internal stress is unresolved conflict

You know its possible to be offended ten years ago but live like it happened yesterday. BUT It takes a lot of energy to keep an offence alive like that. 

Conflict is a normal part of life. People can be annoying and there is always someone in our life who rubs us the wrong way. It’s true – where there is people there will be disagreements, arguments, and conflict. The question is not will we experience conflict but rather what will we do when it happens. 

We each have different ways of responding to conflict. 

Some people are like teddy bears. Their primary concern is to maintain the relationship so they will abandon their goals and needs to keep the peace.

Some people are like turtles. They withdraw when conflict occurs and would rather abandon their goals and even the relationship than face conflict.

Other people are like sharks. They go on the attack when conflict occurs, wanting to win at any cost. They often get their way as others withdraw under the assault.

Then there are thewise owls amongst us. They respond to conflict calmly yet firmly. They don’t withdraw or attack. They seek a way forward that considers their own needs and those of the other person. 

We also all have what could be called a fallback position

  • Push a teddy bear too far and they can morph into a shark. Have you ever seen a fairly compliant person suddenly lose it? 
  • Or a shark that doesn’t get their way can morph into a turtle and go sulk in the corner. 

The strongest relationships are not problem free but have the ability to reconnect emotionally after a disagreement. 

Which animal are you more like when it comes to responding to conflict? Are you a teddy bear, a turtle, a shark or an owl?

What about the people around you – your family, friends, class mates or work associates? 

The more we can understand the different ways we respond to conflict, the better equipped we are to work together to resolve conflict when it does occur.

There is one more animal I want to mention and that is the fox. The fox is a clever ‘situational conflict manager’. They have learned that different situations call for different responses. 

  • Sometimes be the teddy bear – the issue isn’t that big a deal.
  • Sometimes be the turtle and just pull your head in until the dust settles. 
  • At other times, be a bit shark like. There is a big difference between being aggressive and being appropriately assertive. 
  • At other times, be the wise owl – working for to protect the relationship and your goals.

Conflict is painful and its not easy to deal with. There are no simply solutions nor easy answers. But if we ignore it, resentment can build up inside of us like toxic waste. And it uses up a lot of energy causing us internal stress. 

Whatever you do, don’t ignore conflict. It rarely gets better by itself. In fact, it usually gets worse.

Is there a conflict in your world today that needs attention? What could you do to take a step towards resolving it? It takes two people to resolve a conflict but even one person can often influence the situation positively. Finally, is there someone who could help you process what is happening? 

Let’s recap our main points:

Let me encourage you to give attention to your internal stress. Embrace realistic expectations, manage your emotions, and do your best to resolve conflict. As you reduce your internal stress to as low as possible, you will have the capacity to handle the inevitable external stress that will come our way.

That’s all for today. This has been Soul Food with Mark Conner. See you next week!

2 thoughts on “Soul Food Episode 06 – Conflict

  1. Good one Mark. Differing ways of managing conflict can be a major relationship issue. Alain de Botton suggests a key relationship success factor is the ability to communicate and negotiate with intelligence, wisdom and grace.

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