How do we humans get along?

How do we understand one another?

We’re coming from 1,383,357,295 perspectives!

None look at life the same.

You look at life through your viewpoint,

and I look at life through mine.

How do we reconcile?

It’s a miracle we ever understand another.

Yesterday I experienced minor friction with a friend.  He/she interpreted one way.  I interpreted another way.  It looked like impasse, gosh darn, how dare he view me in this limited way?

Luckily, he/she’s a sweet soul who desires communication, who perhaps desires reconciliation.  We emailed back and forth. Hopefully we’re on the same respectful page.


It’s a gift when we find a person ready to engage, instead of  angrily turning away.

In a marriage, don’t we negotiate always?

In  relationship with children, aren’t we always re-stating our intent?

In true friendship, don’t we engage until we understand?

Let’s stay present with one another, dear friends, ever attempting to communicate.  Then, with our heart soft, let’s gently say goodbye if we must.

Conflict arises when we resist Life’s many opinions; love allows infinite options.

How do you handle conflict?


About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
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41 Responses to Conflict

  1. bonnie says:

    In some marriages, negotiation is not always an option. My way or the highway rules. Resolving is a case of praying for patience and praying for patience, and praying…. and holding the tongue.

  2. dduby says:

    Trying to realize where i went wrong, or observing why would the other side behave, the way they do, that is understanding their view point, helps to decide the nature of communication to handle conflict. Self realization and communication are the most important aspects.

  3. Communication can be hard work, and I value it so much as well. Since I so love words, I also need to remember about silence and space. I like what you say about gentle goodbyes, at least for a time. I’ve seen some friendships rest for years, and then renew in a quiet way. Honoring another mystery?

    With hope and love, Ellen

  4. You’re right, “conflict arises when we resist life’s many opinions”.
    With age, I have changed. I used to love a good, friendly argument, both sides pressing their opinion, debating to prove one idea superior over another…I don’t do that anymore. I don’t believe people want to change or hear debate about why they should. I know I don’t. In the same way that I have come to my way of thinking through thoughtful observation and experience, so must others have. I will keep my views; I will honor yours.

  5. lisaspiral says:

    I much prefer dealing with someone who’s willing to identify and work through a conflict rather than just sit with their mad. Of course in the heat that gets harder for all of us. It’s a wonder we don’t have more high drama misunderstandings that’s for sure.

  6. flandrumhill says:

    Kathy, I have many friends, family and co-workers who hold opinions that are VERY different from mine. In a good way (that can be irritating at times), they prevent me from getting too comfortable with MY way of looking at the world. Hopefully I do the same for them.

  7. Karma says:

    I think compromise is a big way of dealing with conflict – especially within a family. With others, I really have to weigh just how important the issue of the conflict is; sometimes it is just easier to agree to disagree.

  8. P.j. grath says:

    Kathy, I’m glad you asked that question! If you didn’t see my review of William Ury’s 1999 (I think) book, THE THIRD SIDE: HOW WE FIGHT AND HOW WE CAN STOP, search for it on my blog. It wasn’t long ago that I posted, and I am so excited about this book because it is PRACTICAL, because it ranges from interpersonal to international, because it is based on his years of experience, because it is optimistic, and because it gave me concrete strategies which I have already been able to put into practice, to my great delight. No more avoidance, evasion, stewing, resentment for me. Better late than never. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

    Hope this doesn’t sound too much like a commercial. I wrote on my blog that I’d like this book to be a “Leelanau Reads” selection, but I’d like to see it as “Michigan Reads” or “American Reads”–or, best yet, “The World Reads”!

    Peace is possible. Is it probably? Not unless we get with the program.

    Thanks for letting me mount my soapbox, Kathy.

  9. Heather says:

    Previous commenters have shared some wise things, I think. I usually try not to negotiate at the height of emotion. I would much prefer to discuss things rationally rather than emotionally. Usually, at least with my husband, we are on the same side of things, but just talking about it in different ways!

  10. I agree to disagree! We both agree to disagree! That is our way of keeping it real! As you stated everyone has a different view. If we all see things in the same way it would be boring. Think happy thoughts, and keep it moving.

  11. sybil says:

    I find it so hard to “agree to disagree”. I think my position is the correct one. So if I think I’m correct I have trouble understanding how someone with a differing view could be correct too. I have a dear friend who has very different views from my own. She tolerates my ranting and strong stance with courtesy. When she gently expresses very differing views, I’m gnashing my teeth — because after all — I AM CORRECT ! Through gentle example she is trying to teach me. But it’s soooo hard.

    • Susan D. says:

      I love your honesty! Agreeing to disagree leaves me stewing and feeling as if I’ve condoned the “wrong” view. It IS sooooo hard to agree to disagree … sigh.

  12. Kerry Dwyer says:

    Badly. Like an ostrich.

    • Celeste says:

      So glad to hear you say this! I always see these well-adjusted comments about understanding and dialogue. Not me! First chance I get I back into my shell like a hermit crab. I have recently come upon a process called “tapping” or “emotional freeing technique” which is helping me. It involves addressing your fears and conflicts head-on while reprogramming your fight-or-flight through acupressure. If you are interested see either (also on Facebook) or

      • Susan D. says:

        Loving both of your comments, Kerry and Celeste… Meeee, too!

        • Brenda Hardie says:

          Kerry, Celeste and Susan D., yep…that’s me too. As much as I would love to handle conflict in a mature and healthy way, I tend to revert back to handling like I have done since being a child. I walk away. I practice self soothing techniques until the high emotions have settled down. Then I wait until the other person has done the same. Often though, the other person simply goes about his or her life like nothing happened. Seems I take things too much to heart. The thing that frightens me the most are people with hot tempers. Even if they cool down as soon as they explode, it frightens me to the point that I need to walk away. I honestly don’t know how to handle situations like that. In my defense though, I am better than I used to be…being able to let some conflict (the stuff I cannot control or should not even try to control) to roll off. I do not allow it to control me.

  13. debyemm says:

    I have never closed the door on reconciling with another person. I have backed away, if they seemed to need space. I have reluctantly accepted, without badgering them, if they indicated they had closed the door to me. I always look at myself, to see if I’ve erred in some opinion; and I always consider the opinion of whoever I am reconciling with. I do not shy away from conflict because some of my greatest growth as a person has come through those interactions; but I do try to remain respectful and considerate, even in the midst of my own emotional heat. I will not admit to a perspective that I am unable to locate authentically within my own self, even for harmony’s sake but I will try to indicate such perspectives as gently as I am able to place such into words.

    I will miss your comments, Kathy. I’ve no current blog to visit. Not into a consistent habit of writing them as of yet.

  14. Kathy – What a lovely, though-proviking post.

    You asked how we handle conflict. The first question I ask myself is, “What’s it like to be on the receiving end of me?” If the answer is not “positive, uplifting, constructive, and healing” I shift gears.

  15. Elisa's Spot says:

    I could have conflict about having conflict, what conflict is, what it is not! I could like conflict because it allows me to see the ‘real’ parts of other people, the things that are hidden, the real things that drive them to be who and what they are…the good stuff. We might have conflict about that too! 😀

  16. Right at this moment, I handle conflict by making sure I breathe through it. I stay focused that way and weather the strong presence of my teens. Not always successful, but I give it my best breath. xoxoox S

  17. Munira says:

    This is a thought-provoking post indeed Kathy, and pertinent too, because I have been dealing with a rather tricky and sometimes melodramatic relationship with a friend. He likes to talk things over….I prefer being evasive….he hates that….I hate confrontations.
    Conflict resolution is annoying, but necessary I guess to keep a friendship going, especially one where conflicts arise often. It is necessary when you know for sure it would be terrible to destroy something special.

  18. Carol says:

    For the most part, I avoid conflict. For the most part, I recognize my closest friends and I have very differing viewpoints about some things, mostly political. Mostly, we avoid discussion, although sometimes I react and speak thoughts out loud until I’m nudged by the friend who agrees with me. The good thing is, we all allow each of us our own ideas and opinions. As for husband, I clam up when he gets irritated because my saying anymore will simply add to his anger. He is not one to “talk things over”. If I feel he has a legitimate point, I will endeavor to compromise. If I don’t I continue on my way.

  19. I don’t like conflict, but I try to find a way to be honest and open. The sad thing is that, nowadays, too many people have lost the ability to truly listen and be open to new ideas and possibilities. I know, that is a generalization, but it really seems that the more “connected” we are, the less we seem to communicate. Sigh.

  20. There is always room for compromise in any conflict. When we let go of our points of view and see things as another does, conflict tends to melt away. 🙂

  21. Barb says:

    Though I dislike conflict, I strive for honesty that doesn’t aim to hurt. We are all so unique – so different as you say – it’s hard work to make and keep friends. Much willingness to compromise is necessary. Love these photos, Kathy. I especially like the sandals in the band of light. Have fun with family, Kathy.

  22. I think I do not have an opinion on this subject that would shed any light to what has already been stated here. Every situation invites a different way of coping.

  23. Marianne says:

    Kathy, the photo of the two little girls is so cute!

    How do I handle conflict? It’s been a process, but right now I don’t think I get into conflict much. Usually, I let things roll off my back (so to speak) and if something doesn’t roll, it alerts me to look within. I ask myself, “What is it about this situation that is making me feel ….? The answer always lies within myself.

    Very reflective post, Kathy. Thanks for the conversation.

    • Claire says:

      I have always seen discussion as the way to deflate potential disagreements both in and outside close relationships. Very thooughtful post..

  24. dearrosie says:

    I like your question Kathy. Communication is so important.

  25. Dana says:

    I’m terrible with conflict, Kathy. I wish I could be more constructive in my responses to bumps in the road, but I tend to either retreat faaaar away or make all the compromises in order to please the other person and supposedly “make things better”. One of the biggest challenges (and lessons) in my life is to be able to stand up for myself even if my “adversary” doesn’t agree or like it. So far in this life, I’ve just wanted to make conflict go away, but sometimes it’s “gone away” at great expense to myself. 😦

    • Brenda Hardie says:

      Oh boy Dana, I can totally relate to your post! There was a time when I had given away so much of myself in order to please others that I lost myself. It got so bad for me that I had to remove myself from everyone and “find” myself again. It took awhile and much hard work but I did it. And now the very people I walked away from are back in my life, accepting me as I am and I do not give myself away anymore. Yes, I compromise when it’s needed and I always look to see if I am at fault and if so, then I make the appropriate changes. Another thing I’ve learned to do, which was very very difficult, is to let my needs be known. I am no longer afraid to question things, to make requests, to ask for clarification. And wonder of wonders, even to disagree! It has taken me a long long time to come to this place and I have much yet to learn but boy is it wonderful to not “lose” myself at others expense anymore! I’m sending up a prayer for you Dana, that you will find peace in this place as well. ♥

  26. Joanne says:

    I’ve just given this question some thought Kathy. I don’t usually have any conflict in my life any more, but if I do ~

    Family and close friends ~ well, I know I can be honest with them. They know they can be honest with me. We just talk, and everything is fine. I don’t even raise my voice any more…ever!

    Strangers ~ they are not a part of my life anyway, so if there is any kind of disagreement it doesn’t matter, because I won’t be seeing them again anyway!

    My blogging friends ~ are people who would never, ever, ever, say anything with the intent to hurt, nor would I say anything to hurt them. I just KNOW that, so it’s all okay!

    I do believe you reach an age when you just realise conflict isn’t welcome in your life, so it disappears. 🙂

  27. Val says:

    I’m afraid I tend to just avoid conflict, I find life easier that way. I hope things get sorted out between you and your friend.

  28. Robin says:

    Another wonderful post, Kathy. My husband and I were discussing something similar this afternoon, about how easy it is to make assumptions and form opinions, but the better way to handle things is through compassion, even in our assumptions and opinions. (It was a longer, more complicated conversation, but that covers the gist of it.)

  29. Brenda Hardie says:

    A friend and I were talking about this very thing Kathy. And we realized that our expectations often get in the way of relationships. When we’re able to let go of some of the unhealthy expectations, then some of the conflict dissipates. Sometimes more work is required and that is where I need help. I have a hard time with conflict, I tend to walk away. High emotions and hot tempers frighten me. I’m so much better than I used to be and I no longer give away who I am as a woman in order to please another person. I no longer fall apart at the first sign of disagreement or conflict. It’s just the deeper issues that I get lost in. I also don’t understand people who use honesty as a way to hurt others. I believe we can be gently honest with others and sometimes, if we don’t have anything nice to say then perhaps we shouldn’t say anything at all. Even if it is the truth. Life is about learning and often in relationships of any kind, we learn as we go. Some people are blessed with a gift of resolving conflict and handling high emotion situations with grace and clarity and I would love to learn from them. I’m sending a prayer up for you and your friend so that the conflict can be resolved without any loss of trust in each other.

    • Elisa's Spot says:

      Your comment had this pop into my head:

      Conflict is like going to an art show gallery full of shoes. I love looking at the people wearing them. I like imagining them, and then seeing them, and then having them share with me so that I can see where I have been ‘right’ and where I have been wrong. I am very very glad that I can find someone with flaming orange shoes with green laces, it helps me to see other things beyond my own purple shoes with pink laces!.

      • Brenda Hardie says:

        Thank you Elisa…this is a very clever way to think of this issue. I’m going to just ponder this more and let it sink in….:) Thank you!

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