Conflict, Controversy, Competition & Courtesy

by Michelle Lasley

Michelle Lasley is a mother, wife in Pacific Northwest learning to balance green dreams with budget realities.

June 7, 2010


Categories: Family

I often wonder why we desire drama so much in our lives.  Do you ever find yourself acting out in a way after your life has been calm for some time?  Or, do you know people who do that?  It’s as if we can’t handle the quiet peace entails and we actually end up making our own drama.

On the flip side, do you find yourself associated with folks who ignore the drama that presents itself for fear of conflict and confrontation? Conflict will arise in life, no matter how much we try to avoid it. I think to avoid making drama involves more with being honest with ourselves, being open to reflection, and being open to change.

I met someone recently who said she didn’t like confrontation, to the point she avoided it. I thought this was interesting, and am not fully surprised when she removed herself from a mutual group. What happens to life if you avoid confrontation, wholly? You get rail-roaded, likely. Or you just avoid the “hard things” no matter how rewarding they might actually be. How do you feel when conflict arises? My heart starts beating, fast. I imagine scenarios, worst case, that might or might not actually happen. I rarely fear a physical confrontation because I think generally as a society we’re too tame for that (imagine the scene in Fight Club where they have to pick fights with strangers and how much the strangers go out of their way to avoid the fight).

Regardless, conflict will arise. And, I believe in sticking up for my rights or perceived rights, so I do state my mind. Perhaps this mentality is set up to invite conflict. But, I have been bullied before (some experiences were many lifetimes ago), and I want to learn from those lessons. I believe people deserve respect. Sometimes, I have to take a few steps back and take several breaths before I confront someone over the concern. I want to approach situations where I give the benefit of the doubt to the offending party. Mistakes happen. I make mistakes, and I also own up to my mistakes. I expect others to own up to their mistakes and remedy situations to the best of our collective abilities. Courtesy and respect are needed for those remedies. If in my confrontation I were to make someone angrier, what incentive would they have to help me?

I’ve worked customer service, in some form, my whole adult life. A very informative chunk of that working life was spent in hotels. I worked a small mom & pop resort and then a 4-Diamond hotel. Although the customer is always right, the mom & pop resort was set, however, to deny the customer everything whereas the 4-Diamond hotel was set to please the customer, always. It was a welcome relief to work at the hotel and finally be able to say, “Yes, yes, yes!” I think we all know how good it feels to say “Yes” rather than “No”.

Even though I was usually able to say “Yes” at the 4-Diamond hotel, sometimes a request could not be fulfilled. Maybe maintenance was otherwise occupied or we really didn’t have the perfect room to please the customer or the hotel was just booked up and we literally had nothing available. Sometimes folks wanted discounts deeper than I was authorized to grant. So, although we spent most of our time saying “Yes”, sometimes we had to say “No.” We did try to make up for this by trying to please the customer in another way. Would they like a complimentary dinner to our restaurant? Could we give them a discount on room service? I found myself less willing to please the affronted customer if they treated me unkindly for the mistake. And, I find the same pattern in every day life.

Surely, we are not perfect, so these vengeful feelings of spite are understood. The judge of character comes into play, I think, with how we recognize and deal with these spiteful feelings. Do we curse everyone out when something doesn’t go our way? Or, do we try to approach the situation with courtesy and respect? If we treat others with the deserved courtesy and respect I bet we can deal with every day conflict. Life is conflict. No matter how hard we try, it will rear its head. Working through conflict makes life enjoyable. This is the space where we build stronger relationships, and that is what life should be about.

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