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Conflict and Avoidance

Constantly seeking conflict, or always avoiding it, are both frequently an indication of avoidance, usually avoidance of closeness or distance. Bonding issues, in close relationships, manifest themselves very easily by an over-adaptation (conflict avoidance) or by a constant striving for power, submission and autonomy. Such patterns quite often occur, particularly in leadership roles. Therefore, it is naïve to assume that such people would really have an interest in ending conflict, or in picking a fight. This would, in each case, jeopardise the achieved stability. However, as sustained conflicts and over-adaptation are popular issues, for which counselling is sought, it is dangerous if the counsellor does not recognise this behaviour as an avoidance strategy. People often ‘need’ their problem, this is particularly applicable for conflict, or their non-existence. Here, especially, the examination of the symptom’s function is a necessary element of the change processes, because otherwise the real issue cannot be the subject in the counselling process.

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