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"Conflict Avoidance?" Look beyond

From People Pleaser to Powerful Communicator

This ONE by Yolanda Yu

This ONE idea and its manifestations in life and career

Happy This ONE Friday!

This ONE Idea

In a few recent coaching sessions on conflict management, a major insight emerged:

The word "conflict" deserves a new meaning.

We’re social animals, wired to maintain harmony within our tribe. Conflict, on the surface, seems dangerous.

But avoiding conflict? That means we’re not standing up for what we believe in, not defending our rights and boundaries, not voicing our opinions, and ultimately sidelining our interests. Moreover, we miss opportunities to adjust our relationships or situations, allowing things to fester and worsen. That’s a huge cost.

And given your intelligence, why would you sabotage yourself like this? The reasons are complex.

Let’s break down a few common ones:

Common Reason 1: The “Big Shouting Game”

For some, "conflict" evokes an image of an emotionally charged drama—people shouting, maybe even hurling insults. They fear other people’s anger and the threat response it triggers in them.

Common Reason 2: Fear of Irreversible Damage

Often, we fear our own anger, worrying it might spin our usually calm selves out of control. It can make us look unprofessional, damage relationships, and take things in unexpected directions.

Common Reason 3: Lack of Skills - “I Am Too Blunt”

Direct and blunt people might have a track record of triggering negative responses. Holding back to avoid conflict then becomes a default reaction. While avoiding our worst trait seems wise, it’s far from ideal.

A better response is to hone our skills: communicate effectively without ruffling feathers and navigate tense situations with finesse. In short, speak to improve the situation, not worsen it. And this is something we can train for.

Common Reason 4: I Am Only Worthy If Others Like Me

People who see themselves as “people pleasers” often tie their self-worth to harmony. They believe their value hinges on being liked and maintaining peace at all costs. This stems from deep-seated beliefs and past experiences where approval was tied to not making waves.

This desire to be liked can lead to self-sacrifice, consistently putting others’ needs and opinions before our own. Over time, this erodes self-esteem and breeds resentment.

True self-worth comes from within, not from external validation. Learning to assert ourselves and engage in healthy conflict is about honoring our needs and boundaries. It’s about balancing consideration for others with staying true to ourselves.

Question For You

So if we dare to pull our heads out of the sand, how can we redefine the word “conflict”?

(Hint: Think about why some of the common reasons may not make sense.)

If you think you would benefit from improving conflict management, let’s chat.

Until next week,

Yolanda Yu
Coach and lifelong learner

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Every Friday, I share ONE idea and its manifestations and 1 question for you to ponder. Other ingredients you can expect will be book extracts, quotes, metaphors, tools, resources, and mini-exercises to keep growing your self-awareness.