Evelyn Wald, Executive Director | Center for Alternatives in Community Justice
These days some of us are living a bit “too close for comfort” and tempers may flare. Many folks are very uncomfortable with conflict especially with family or friends. However, conflict is a normal part of life. We have internal conflicts about simple things like what to wear or eat and about larger concerns like sending children to school or having them home learning virtually. And, of course, we DO have conflicts with people in our lives – co-workers, neighbors, friends and family.
Tomorrow the Centre County commissioners have proclaimed as Centre County Conflict Resolution Day. This is an opportunity to remind us that conflicts DO happen and to raise awareness about ways to address and resolve these differences. Despite our discomfort it is important to address these conflicts.
There is a Chinese symbol for CRISIS (or we could substitute conflict) that means both danger and opportunity. At CACJ we see conflict as an opportunity to increased communication and greater understanding. Sometimes addressing these conflicts can maintain and even strengthen relationships.
Too often our fear or dislike about conflict (danger) causes us to ignore or avoid conflicts which can lead to greater difficulty. Fear of strong reactions drive people away from these unresolved issues and concerns. Anger, confusion, misunderstandings, and avoidance can escalate into heightened emotions and unnecessary responses. We encourage you to acknowledge and address conflicts. Try to see them as opportunities for understanding and healing.
Here are some simple guidelines to follow: Acknowledge there is a problem or concern. Find a time and safe space to talk it out. Share your feelings. Listen to each other. Even if you don’t agree and see things differently, you can do your best to hear the other person and acknowledge their feelings. These skills can be used at home, at work, within faith communities, businesses and organizations, teams, and even in cunty government. Give it a try. YOU can do it. Be patient with yourself and others and give time and attention to these important concerns.
CACJ – the Center for Alternatives in Community Justice – is ready to help you learn more about conflict resolution. If you are interested in a presentation, workshop or mediation training, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tomorrow, think about striving for a conflict free day OR beginning to use the skills you have and address your conflicts. Acknowledging and attending to our differences and conflicts can create peace in our lives, our homes, our workplaces, our communities, our world. Today, may you work toward peace.