The Price You Pay for Avoiding Conflict

When someone treats you poorly, do you address it? Or do you hesitate, fearing that if you bring the situation up, worried you might make things worse?  

For many, biting one’s tongue seems wiser, safer.

Is it?

If you’re someone who chooses the certainty of silence over the risk of speaking out, consider where that path leads you.

It doesn’t give you what you need…

Avoiding conflict provides only temporary relief. It fixes nothing.

The conflict festers.

It’s as if you set a package of rancid chicken back in the fridge, hoping the chicken would improve with time.

You become the problem

When you bite your tongue and choke your feelings down, they often bubble up to the surface. Instead of talking things out, you act them out, sending out an unhappy vibe.

The smoldering conflict flares

Unresolved conflict acts like tinder, ready to ignite into a messy explosion when you least expect it.

You disappoint yourself…and let yourself down

The realization you haven’t faced the problem situation or stuck up for yourself hangs over you like a dark cloud.

You pay a high price for avoiding conflict. Worse, you don’t develop your conflict resolution muscles. They become flabby. When you really need them, you won’t be able to pull them into action.

If there’s an issue important to you, bring it up. Bite-your-tongue-silence costs when you have something you truly want and need to say. Don’t pay the price.   

I’ve finished writing Managing for Accountability: A Business Leader’s Toolbox (43,400 words, to be published by Business Expert Press, August 2021) and have started writing Conflict Fixes: Tools for Handling Tough, Touchy Situations and Conversations. I’d love to hear from you what topics you want addressed in this upcoming book.

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4 thoughts on “The Price You Pay for Avoiding Conflict

  1. Listen to Lynne! She and I are of the same mind on this. This is my recent response to a question asked by a LinkedIn connection.

    Dear Paulette,

    Am I unassertive because I like to avoid conflict?


    Dear R.K.,

    It depends. Conflict often finds us when we are minding our own business:

    Having a broken arm, I pre-boarded my flight to Mexico where I was scheduled to speak. I sat in my aisle seat and zoned out.

    10 minutes later a loud voice startled me. “YOU’RE IN MY SEAT. PLEASE MOVE.“

    I showed the man towering over me my boarding pass/seat assignment. He showed me his [boarding pass]. SAME seat assignment!

    “It seems we were mistakenly assigned to the same seat,” I pleasantly said.

    “Move,” he boomed. “I prefer the aisle.”

    “As do I. Let’s abide by the first-come-first-served principle!” I calmly responded.

    He stormed off looking for a flight attendant to complain. [“Good luck with that,” I thought.]

    I could have avoided the conflict by yielding to the request. And I would have, if sitting in an aisle seat wasn’t a strong personal preference.

    Saying yes just to avoid the conflict would have left me irked with myself. [Not to mention miserable for the 3 hour flight to Mexico City.]

    Remember, how you feel about yourself over the long haul is more important than how some #%! feels about you for the moment.

    Be assertive.


  2. The two most important takeaways here for me were that you become the problem when you don’t confront conflict, because you will “ACT OUT” in other ways about it and it has a way of worming itself into other aspects at work and other relationships.

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