Conflict Avoidance: 5 Harmful Effects and Ways to Overcome.

Conflict avoidance
Ketut Subiyanto

People with conflict avoidance tend to stay away from fights and confrontation, even when the situation requires it. Nobody likes to fight with everyone just for the fun of it but there are times when you just can not back down without voicing your opinion, even if the other person does not agree with you.

Keeping it all inside you might make you feel safe for the time being but it is bound to take a toll on your mental well-being in one way or another. Having conflict avoidance can interfere with your professional as well as a personal relationship with friends, family and even create a barrier in your relationship.

It is also not advisable to look for having an argument at every opportunity available as that too is harmful to your well-being, as well for others.

People with conflict avoidance often feel that there is no point arguing over a topic that can be resolved just by not speaking or making a point at all. They tend to get uncomfortable when presented in a situation where they have to get their point across.

But how do you know that if you are conflict avoidant or not? Below are some signs mentioned that can help you understand if you have conflict avoidance.


Signs of Conflict Avoidance

  1. You Just Accept Everything.

Let’s take an example, you and a classmate of yours are given a project for which you have worked very hard, gave everything to it. On the day of the presentation, your classmate takes all the credit and makes the teacher believe that your contribution was significantly small.

What would a person who does not have conflict avoidance do? They will clearly tell their teacher the truth and would do everything to prove the same.

Whereas, a person having conflict avoidance would just brush the whole thing off making themselves believe that it hardly matters, where in reality it really does matter.


  1. Past Experiences with Conflicts

It is believed that an individual having conflict avoidance might have gone through some traumatic conflicts experienced in the past that have made them avoid fights at all costs.

Having a parent-child relationship where if the child voiced their opinion were scolded very badly can also be one of the reasons that people develop conflict avoidance in the latter part of their life. If the parent resort to beating up their child, it can become really difficult for the child, as they will feel that keeping quiet is the only way forward.


  1. Steering the conflict away

The one thing people with conflict avoidance are pro at is avoiding confrontation at all costs. When they see a fight incoming, their natural response is hot how to get out of it not how to get through it.

Starting talking about a new topic, brushing off the conversation as a joke, getting defensive, or just straight up leaving the room, are some ways by which conflict avoidant people steer the conflicts away.

  1. Fear of expressing yourself

This sign comes as no surprise. What is a conflict? A conflict is where people put out the different perspective that they feel is correct. It is not necessary that only one person is right in a fight, both can be wrong and both can be right as well.

You would not know who is right or wrong unless you express yourself, take a stand for yourself. If you are wrong in a fight, there should be no hesitation in accepting your mistake.

People with conflict avoidance sometimes also believe that what if their opinion is wrong and they would just waste everyone’s time by saying it out loud.

Obviously, you cannot be 100 percent right at all times, but not speaking your thoughts is just accepting your defeat without taking part in a competition.


You now have an idea about the behavior of a conflict avoidant person. Let’s move on to how having conflict avoidance is harmful to the person.

Harmful Effects Conflict Avoidance

  • By avoiding conflicts, you are making sure that your true feelings stay bottled inside yourself. Bottling up feelings is never a good option as they can affect your mental well-being negatively.
  • It is also found that premature death can be caused by keeping emotions bottled up inside yourself
  • Instead of acknowledging the problem, avoiding it can cause distress which may lead up to anxiety, depression, and feelings of loneliness.
Conflict avoidance
Eric Ward
  • Having conflict avoidance can put a serious damper in work as well as personal relationships. The negative build-up could reach a maximum limit which will force you to break down, a scenario that no one wants to experience.
  • Not having communication that is honest with anyone can lead you to fear getting intimate with other people.

The pattern of conflict avoidance should be broken down as early as possible in an individual’s life. Overcoming conflict avoidance would not be one day process, instead, it will be a slow process that will yield results gradually. Below are some ways in which conflict avoidance can be overcome.


Overcoming Conflict Avoidance

  1. Understanding Conflicts

As mentioned before, a conflict is not always about being right or wrong, rather at times, it is about standing up for yourself.

Do not shy away from doing so, keep in mind that if you let the other person walk over you once, it will become a repeated occurrence.

This can become a huge problem in the work environment as you can not show your weakness in front of people that are ready to do anything to achieve more.

The best way to move forward in a conflicted situation is to avoid putting blame on others as it can make the people become defensive and aggressive which the people with conflict avoidance apparently do not want.

  1. Relieve Stress

Nothing good comes out of doing things when you are stressed and a conflict should definitely not be resolved when stressed. You will say things that you do not mean and the situation will escalate in no time.

The conflict or confrontation requires your full attention which can only happen if you are in control of your emotions and feelings.

Whenever you are feeling stressed, try some grounding techniques as they are a huge help in relaxing the mind quickly and effectively.

The most common grounding technique is using the capabilities of your senses; see, touch, hear, and smell.

Picturing or thinking about happy memories or things that makes you happy can also help in calming you down.

  1. Be Prepared

People having conflict avoidance want to speak out but refrain from doing so fearing that what they will say is not correct.

There are many situations in our life where we can foresee that a conflict might arise, be prepared for these situations.

Make a plan according to it, write down or memorize the points you would like to put across. You can not entirely predict how a two-sided conversation will go but what you can do is getting your facts right which will help you be confident during the course of an argument.

Conflict avoidance
Polina Kovaleva

Even if the confrontation does not go according to how you planned, do not panic as you already have all the right facts, use them appropriately and wisely.

  1. Manage your Emotions

The foremost problem associated with people having conflict avoidance is how easily they brush their own feeling aside. They assume that their feelings are invalid and repress their emotions.

To avoid this from happening, the individuals having conflict avoidance should firstly respect their own feelings and emotions. You should be able to feel sadness, anger, or frustration, without feeling guilty, they are your emotions. No one will understand them if you do not understand them first.

Conflict avoidance
David Garrison

When you come to the stage where you are able to manage your emotions well, the next step will be on how to express them. If you have learned to manage your emotions, then expressing them will become an easy task.

  1. Resolve Conflicts

Everyone in their mind has thoughts like- “Why did not I say that to his face?”, we have the whole confrontation planned out in our mind with possibly the best replies. The only problem? It stays all in the mind of people having conflict avoidance as they do not speak their minds.

Instead of having one-sided mind battles, try saying those thoughts out loud when it is necessary.

Try being assertive but not accusatory or defensive in a confrontation and you will have no problem at all.


In the End

If you feel that conflict avoidance has started to take a toll on your mental well-being, consult a therapist. They can help with the bottled-up emotions and make you realize the importance of standing up for yourself.

You can not ever be void of conflict avoidance but understanding the importance of resolving the issues immediately and effectively can help you lead a healthy lifestyle. It also helps in communication with family, friends, co-workers, and partners.


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Any information found on the site does not constitute legal or medical advice. Should you face health issues, please visit your doctor to get yourself diagnosed. Icy Health offers expert opinions and advice for informational purposes only. This is not a substitute for professional medical advice.


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