Chapter 2
Why Do We Avoid Conflict?


Most of us hate anything that feels like a conflict. We would do almost anything to avoid an argument, paying it no attention and, hoping the problem will just go away. We end up agreeing to things that we have no intention of doing. We stay in a job long after our enthusiasm for it is dead and gone. When it comes to conflicts, fear tends to take over our behavior and reactions.

In any organization, especially the very dynamic ones, coworkers tend to see conflicts and avoid them, some more than others. But it is not unusual for coworkers to be able to assert themselves competently in one part of the workplace, being self-assertive, able to address issues and readily engage in conflict, and not do so in another. Furthermore, the same people who are so assertive at work may be, in their private lives, a lot different. The opposite is also true; you find people that are very assertive and combative at home with their spouses, but perceived as pacemakers at their organizations, where they are motivated less by gentleness than by fear. Here conflict scares them. In the face of problems they freeze up inside, become passive and may even put off making a decision if they think it will lead to tension. Such attitudes can make a productive team very unproductive, impacting interpersonal relationships within the group. This may also affect the success of a project, if workers hired for their skills fear expressing opposite opinions about their subject matter expertise.

Rational and logical thinking has been responsible for most achievements in life. However, as these achievements were archived and access to them became possible, answers to previously unknown problems became searchable, thus limiting and constricting our ability to think creatively, to innovate. Just think about the automobile industry. Nothing really has changed, except for the recent forays into hybrid cars, since the invention of automobile. Cars are still running on wheels and burning fossil fuel. Yet following the invention of the wheel, cars pulled by horses, the first steam cars and finally the first engine propelled car, not many years had gone by; nevertheless, each of those stages transcended the next. The same holds true for the architecture and building construction industries.

  • Overview
  • What Bridges a Conflict is a New Conflict
  • All Things are Impermanent: Bridges Don't Last
  • Understanding the Genesis of a Conflict
  • Where does the Fear of Conflicts Come From?
  • How Social Reward Affects Conflict Avoidance?
  • The Cost of Conflicts
  • Coca-Cola Enterprises
  • PECO Energy
  • Schering-Plough

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