Season 7 Episode 39: Top 5 Reasons We Avoid Conflict

Season 7 Episode 39: Top 5 Reasons We Avoid Conflict, shows two heads with thought bubbles and lightning above them.
Season 7 Episode 39: Top 5 Reasons We Avoid Conflict

We all are human. We all avoid conflict and discomfort from time to time. The best leaders and teams develop skills to identify avoidance and then move forward with courageous conversations.

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Jason introduces Season 7 episode 39 of the podcast, Top 5 Reasons We Avoid Conflict. Welcome back to the podcast on corporate culture and leadership and thank you for listening. We engage thought leaders like CEOs, CFOs, managers, VPs, directors, and more for this podcast. We wish to create content that engages your mind and heart and allows you to step back and think and add some positivity to your life. We deep dive into today’s topic.

We can’t control everything but what we can control is our response. Still a lot of work to do but wanted to remind the audience what is within our control is the temperature we create in the organizations and teams we work with.

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“Shouting self-care at people who actually need community-care is how we fail people. Both are needed.”

Here are the top 5 reasons why we avoid conflict:

  1. Life will be easier if we just don’t address it. This is never the case and Jason goes into this detail at 10:14.
  2. In our minds, we think it saves time.  We have to make time to address it so avoidance is easier and takes less time.
  3. It might save the friendship. We don’t want to rock the boat and we want to save the friendship.
  4. It might not help the situation to argue about it. We say internally that it wont help things anyway.
  5. Not to Like Me. Avoiding people not liking you is a top reason to avoid conflict. Jason shares more detail on this at




So today we’re talking about how conflict and discomfort are part of life, how we navigate our way through conflict and discomfort is often what helps us either grow, or if we don’t deal with it, well, wither.


Or if we do it deal, deal with it. Well, move into kind of healthier relationships.


And if we hide from it, avoid it. Then our relationships unfortunately become unhealthy.


So we all are human, all of us, and we typically do not want conflict or seek it out. None of us want conflict or want to have to deal with, you know, a a difficult situations. But the more we practice it and the more that we get better about leading and showing up in the midst of it, the better we get at navigating.


The way through conflict and discomfort we learn to flex muscles that help.


Us work through the conflict in healthier ways. None of us are perfect, but it helps us work through it in healthier ways. Others we know tend to run the other direction, or hide or pretend the conflict of the discomfort’s not there, or to to just mask it. And and all of us are masters at avoiding the conflict from time to time.


But we’re remembering the words today on this podcast that what is mentionable becomes more manageable. So we’re nudging ourselves forward into more productive and healthier ways of navigating our way through conflict.


As I was reading the great Adam Grant, you know, if you know Adam and his work, he’s an author. He’s an organizational psychologist, but reading one of his recent books, think again is the name of the book really great book? I really enjoyed it and think Adam’s work is is fantastic. I was struck by a section where he acknowledges all the reasons why.


Reasons why he avoids conflict and it was honest and it was vulnerable.


And I think it was right on for most of us humans that all of us avoid, you know, conflict from time to time. And. And so I I wanted to add to his list, but I, you know, I, you know, I see the kind of four reasons that he put in there, but I will. I have another one that I think deserves to be in the list. So here are the top five reasons.


Reasons I’ll personalize it as say I, but I also think we all avoid conflict and I’m guessing if I feel this way there are some of you out there that this might resonate with you too. So the top five reasons that I or we avoid conflict.


One is that it’s easier. The first thing that I think needs to be thrown into this and this is an addition. This is what I will add to Adam’s great list if it’s easier.


It’s easier to avoid it. The fact of the matter is it’s way easier to not address conflict in the sense that we don’t. You know, we can run away from and hide. Now I believe that eventually you’re going to have to deal with it, but in the moment it’s often easier for us to just walk the other direction or pretend that the conflict or the discomfort isn’t there.


This is the one thought I think was missing from Adam’s list because I know many of us avoid conflict because it seems to be much easier to just keep doing what we’re doing and keeping our head down and trying to pretend it’s not there. And so it’s just easy.


We think life’s gonna be easier if we just never address it. That’s the number one reason.


The second reason is I think it is in our minds. We think it saves time that we often if we’re going to really deal with a conflict or deal with discomfort, we often have to stop our current mode of operations and make time to address it. And so in our heads, we think, oh, that’s going to take more time. And so not only is it easier to avoid it.


But it’s also there’s there’s less time that we have to commit to it. And so again, it seems easier to just keep going.


But we often avoid it because it also is going to take more time to go and have the courageous conversation that we may need to have or to go deal with the team issue or to go identify something that we know is making us uncomfortable because it’s not leading to the performance that we we need or that we’re looking for.


Or the culture isn’t.


Leading and acting and behaving in the way that we want. And so it’s easier to not address it and it may save time to just pretend as if it’s not there.


But the third reason also that I and we avoid conflict is that sometimes the third thing is it might save the friendship or in our minds we say, well, we don’t want to rock the boat because we don’t we, you know, we want to save the friendship, we’re all human and we fear that the conflict that we have with somebody will end a relationship.


And so we avoid it in an effort to keep everything seemingly OK, even though we all know deep down that everything isn’t OK.


When there’s something serious that we need to to conflict or discomfort that needs to be addressed, our fear on what could go wrong keeps us focused on that. What could go wrong rather than what could go right? What could be in the future, that if we’re willing to address it, that actually it may strengthen our relationships.


but the fear in our head says it might. You know, why would we address the conflict? If you know, I’ll just. I’ll just protect the relationship. I’ll save the relationship so it’s easier. It saves time. It might save the friendship. The fourth reason that I and that we often avoid conflict is that it it might not help. We say to in our in our own heads the stories we tell ourselves in our own heads.


It might not help the situation to.


Argue about it.


And so related to the fear.


You know of talking ourselves into into the complacency line of thinking that it it it it won’t help things anyway and we we can lift the kind of fear or kind of talking that that narrative it you know to ourselves which is really a narrative complacency. It’s that line of thinking that hey, it won’t help things anyway. So why should I do this?


And of course, there are many instances where arguing, quote UN quote arguing doesn’t help the situation. I know you know, oftentimes I don’t wanna focus on the idea of arguing.


And because oftentimes I think arguing and debating the spirit of debate isn’t what often helps. But when I think of effective, courageous conversations.


They aren’t. They aren’t taking the mindset or approaching it about going to have an argument.


They’re actually focused on having a dialogue.


Blog and if you remember the episode that I once did, that was all about the difference between discussion and dialogue. You’ll remember that how we approach courageous conversations is as important as anything. Do we approach it from an argument standpoint that we’re trying to win or debate, or are we seeking to understand the other person’s position?


And we’re also trying to understand well, what does progress look like for us and whether are we willing to bring it to the surface. So we can’t get tricked into focusing on arguing and we have to focus on solutions.


And seeking to understand the other point of view or the other person, and also to remember what’s the purpose of all this. So it’s easier we tell ourselves, you know, to avoid the conflict. It saves us time. We tell ourselves to avoid the conflict. It might save the friendship we tell ourselves to avoid the conflict. And it it might not help to argue.


Or like it just won’t help anyway. So we tell ourselves to avoid the conflict. The fifth reason that I avoid conflict is that I don’t want anyone to not like me or be mad at me. And so lastly, of course, I’ll admit this that I don’t want. I don’t want people to to be mad at me or not like.


To me, you know, and I think most people are that way. We don’t want someone to feel like somebody doesn’t like us or is mad at us, you know, and I want to. I want to be. I’ll, I’ll be honest is that I want to have good standing and all my relationships.


I do hope.


People enjoy me and I hope they like me.


However, I can’t keep that from getting in the way of honest and courageous conversations. I also know that at the core of my being, even though I may have a desire for people to like me and I, don’t want to be in bad standing, I don’t need people to like me just for like the sense of that I just, I just hope.


They do not, not from me, but I just hope that I don’t want to have any burned bridges with anybody, but I can’t let that get in the way of honest and courageous conversations that are focused on progress. I can identify my own needs that I sense inside and then muster up the courage to stimulate them.


So like.


You know, even though I know I don’t want somebody to be mad at me or.


Not like me, you know. I also know in my own gut the times, the sense in times when, like, alright, I need to muster up the courage in order to go have a courageous conversation that will stimulate progress. So those are the reasons I avoid conflict. But they also are things that I need to remember.


And identify when I find myself avoiding conflict that really needs attention. And I’m guessing that I’m not alone in this, that that and not only Adam Grant was identifying this for himself as well, but also all of us. There are reasons why we avoid it.


Point and the point isn’t just to point that out, but recognizing that those are the reasons that we might be avoiding it, and hopefully as a helpful and healthy nudge for me and for us towards willing to go have the courage to have the dialogue that is needed and helps me seek out people and situations.


That I truly want to move forward with when I can catch myself. Am I truly just avoiding this, this conflict or avoiding this? This discomfort, or am I courageous enough?


To be committed to the relationship, to be committed to the progress that we’re trying to see within the team or within the organization. And if I am, then I have to be willing to go have the courage to not let myself just avoid this, but to be go willing to have courageous conversations that are rooted in progress.


And care for another human.


And being so, some questions for us to ponder for today, what are the reasons you avoid conflict and are there any relationships or situations that you’re you are currently avoiding? You know, you may have other reasons beyond the list of five that I shared today, but what are the reasons you avoid conflict? And are there any relationships or situations that you are currently avoiding?


What are the courageous conversations that need to become more mentionable so that they can become more manageable in your life on your team, and within your organization? What are the courageous conversations that need to become more mentionable so that they can become more manageable? And how can your team better commit to acknowledging?


What needs to be more mentionable in order to stimulate progress into the future to make that commitment, let’s not avoid the things that we really need to talk about. Let’s be willing to be courageous and keep progress and care for each other and our culture.


At the forefront so we don’t avoid things and are willing to go have those conversations. I hope today’s episode got you thinking in many new ways. If a deeper dive into any of these topics or you just have feedback for the episode or for any of the episodes, please contact us and let us know. We’ll continue to the conversation.


Content that meets you where you are and continues to to hopefully stretch all of us. So I hope you’ll go back, listen to old episodes and share them with the people around you as they resonate with you lastly, I’ll just say this cheers to you and the path ahead.


All of us.


And remember that the future of leadership is you as me as us. We’ve got an opportunity to get clear on the temperature that we hope to set and then an opportunity to be courageous and committed to help breathe oxygen into the team and to the people around us. And so that we’ll, you know, that kind of oxygen that will sustain us.


The path forward. So let’s step back, remember.


Be a thermostat and breathe good oxygen.

Questions to Ponder

  1. What are the reasons you avoid conflict?

  2. Are there any relationships or situations that you are currently avoiding?

  3. What are the courageous conversations that need to become more mentionable so that they can become more manageable?

  4. How can your team better commit to what needs to be mentionable to make that commitment in the future?

Please leave a review for the podcast It really helps the podcast to spread these messages out into the world. Please share this podcast with your organization, on your team, or in your life to help spread these messages. Thank you!

If any of these topics are interesting to you please or you want a deep dive on any specific topics, please reach out to us at

Listen to more great episodes here

Remember, the best leaders, teams, & cultures stimulate progress by recalibrating their thermostat together.

If you like the podcast, have a question, or just want to share your thoughts about daring to begin please leave a comment below or please leave a review on Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts.

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Conversations and micro-thoughts to engage your mind and heart.

A thermostat is proactive. It sets the temperature in a room. Controls the temperature. Regulates the temperature. But in today’s distracted, fast-paced and digital world, it’s easy for individuals and organizations to act more like thermometers, slipping into reactionary thinking, becoming scattered and inconsistent. The most compelling leaders, teams, organizations, families, or collection of humans of any kind operate in thermostat mode. They calibrate their mind and heart to set the temperature for the vision and culture they want to create. Jason Barger, globally celebrated author, keynote speaker, and founder of Step Back Leadership Consulting, is the host of The Thermostat, a podcast journey to discover authentic leadership, create compelling cultures and find clarity of mission, vision, and values.