Tag Archives: Assertiveness

The Powerful Downside to Unresolved Conflict

We’ve all had arguments and disagreements with people that leave us angry, upset and in search of revenge. I saw this recently whilst trying to negotiate an agreement for a client with somebody who had not only done a job badly for him but had caused a huge amount of stress and anxiety at a very difficult time in his life. Whilst my client was more than willing to find a reasonable solution, despite how he felt, the other was not. In fact, his response was denial, followed by silence.

This approach may have its advantages in certain situations, particularly if you know that the consequences of ignoring a complaint will not impact you negatively. However, what it will do is anger your opponent. The conflict will continue, if not in silence then in determination. It will leave them with a sense of frustration, a desire to punish you and a need to reinforce their self-esteem which has probably been damaged by what they may perceive as a lack of respect.

How do you know when conflict Is unresolved?

In legal disputes, parties often settle with an agreed amount of money which draws a line under future court action. There is nothing wrong with this and some disputes are only about financial loss suffered by one party. It cuts legal costs, puts a stop to the uncertainty of knowing how a judge will decide a case and it allows the parties to move on. 

This might not deal with the powerful emotions that arise out of the conflict. I’ve lost count of the times a client has been angered when one of their contractors doesn’t pay and even though this is a purely commercial arrangement, they still take it personally, seeing it sometimes as a distressing and disrespectful act. In my experience, money just represents power, approval, self-esteem, respect and a whole host of other needs and emotions.

Sometimes, what you really want is an apology, the chance to tell the other person how hurt you feel so that you can move on. You might even want to repair a damaged relationship by saying sorry yourself.

In short, unresolved conflict means that your needs or the other person’s are still being ignored or neglected which results in feeling more negative emotions about this.

Key Signs

You know when conflict is resolved properly because you feel satisfied. Here are a few key signs:

  • The anger you once felt has gone;
  • You can now put things into perspective;
  • You can recognise the lessons you have learnt from the conflict;
  • The conflict no longer engages you as it’s boring;
  • It’s not the first, second, third or fourth thing you think about;
  • You feel very certain that you can move on with your relationship or without it.

What happens if conflict is unresolved

The power of unresolved conflict lies in the emotional hold it has over you. It can stop you from enjoying life because you are constantly angry, sad, grieving or yearning for closure.  It can also badly affect your self-esteem and leave you feeling disappointed with how you and the other person has behaved. In those highly emotional states, making wise decisions may be impossible!

Conflict can arise out of several perceptions that have no basis other than past experiences. Without a willingness to constructively communciate or listen to the other person, you will continue to live with certain beliefs which may not apply to every individual.

In those highly emotional states, making wise decisions may be impossible!

Resolving Conflict Properly

Good solutions that last consist of practical, agreed and creative ways of satisfying everyone’s needs and interests. This can only really be achieved through assertive communication which expresses without blame, how you feel, which needs are not being satisfied and what you both need to do to address them. This is a problem that you both need to resolve so that you both benefit.

Staying quiet or reacting aggressively will only allow the conflict to continue, damage the relationship beyond repair and keep you in a state of emotional deadlock. The aim is to disentangle yourself from those emotions and find a sense of clarity that helps you recognise what you need to do to find peace.

What impact has unresolved conflict had on you? Leave a comment!

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