Wednesday, 30 October 2013

How to prevent unnecessary conflict and avoid wasting your time. Prudence can spare you an immense amount of trouble. More often than not, it is possible to stay away from pointless confrontation

Ideally, you want to adopt cautious, discreet measures that spare you unnecessary conflict. Instead of confrontation, avoidance should be your preferred approach. Here are some practical ideas about how to prevent unnecessary conflict.

How to prevent unnecessary conflict and avoid wasting your time

The first line of defence is simply to avoid people who constitute an obvious threat. For example, imagine that you are waiting at a queue to buy a cinema ticket and you see a man approach. He is walking exceedingly fast, bumping into passers-by, and he does not even stop to apologize. 

His face shows a stern expression, his eyes are focused on the sidewalk, and he is talking to himself, oblivious of his surroundings. He is headed to collide with people waiting in the cinema queue. 

For a moment, you think of calling his attention, but your prudence takes over. You take a step backwards and let him go through. Congratulations you have spared yourself some completely unnecessary trouble.

Prudence can spare you an immense amount of trouble

The second principle is steering away from people who are repeatedly involved in fights. Imagine for example that you hire a new recruit for your sales team, a young man who made an excellent impression during the interview. He possesses considerable drive and ambition, together with first-class verbal skills.

The young man seems to be the right kind of person to represent your company. During the interview, he gave good answers to your questions and you feel confident that you have made a great choice.

However, on his second week on the job, you perceive details that no longer match the first picture. On Tuesday morning, he comes to work unshaven, wearing yesterday's ruffled shirt, with a ketchup stain on his tie and a bruise on his forehead.

Gently, you draw his attention to how important it is for a salesman to give a professional image, but he tells you that he has been involved in a bar fight. Two weeks later, a similar episode takes place.

You hesitate for a short while, wondering if he is going through temporary difficulties. That might well be the case, but you know that you shouldn't take the risk of having any kind of aggression against co-workers. You summon the young man to your office and, regretfully, you fire him. Congratulations again, you have put an end to situation that could jeopardise your business and your future.

Irrational rigidity is often a warning of upcoming problems

As a general principle, it is a good idea to stay away from people who are irrationally rigid in their attitudes or views. Imagine for example that, in the factory where you work, the Head of Finance assigns you to take part in a project with several persons from other departments. During the first meeting of the team, a participant defends an untenable approach and opposes all sensible suggestions from colleagues.

That person, whom you have never met before, makes an overall impression of obstinacy and does not even allow other team members to finish their sentences. His stubbornness surpasses all tolerable levels and goes as far as threatening anyone who disagrees with him. Should you face him head-on and engage in a verbal confrontation?

Your best option is to try to have all important decisions postponed and, as soon as the meeting is over, discuss the problem discreetly with a few team members that you trust. Then, together, you go to see the Head of Finance, tell him about the incident, and have the troublesome individual removed from the project. Congratulations for a third time, you have prevented some serious problems down the road.

More often than not, it is possible to stay away from pointless confrontation

Another trait of people who are likely to cause unnecessary problems is that they use of offensive or hurtful words. Imagine for instance that you meet a very attractive woman and begin to date her regularly. Her charms make her irresistible. You feel that you have met the woman of your life and start thinking of marrying her.

The only aspect that troubles you is that, from time to time, she gets disproportionately upset about problems or inconveniences. One evening, when you arrive late for dinner due to a traffic jam, she becomes enraged and attacks you verbally. You put the incident down to her having a bad day and forget about it.

However, after spending a weekend together, you inadvertently wash her blue dress with the white linen and she reacts furiously, shouting insults at you. As a result, you decide to stop seeing her and call yourself lucky for having detected the problem early enough. Congratulations, you have spared yourself plenty of unnecessary irritation and inconvenience.

Wise people know how to draw the right conclusions from facts

Are these recommendations exaggerated? Should you always be on the watch for potential dangers? No, but you need to remain alert to a reasonable extent. Wise people know how to separate their desire to live in a perfect world from the reality of human experience.

When you detect an aggressive person, avoid automatic reactions and behave as prudently as you do in your everyday business dealings. Do not waste time trying to fix the problems of strangers. Instead, move on and seek out the company of benevolent, kind individuals, since those are the type of people that are going to make a positive difference in your life.

For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my book The 10 Principles of Rational Living


Image by dherman1145 under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under

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