There are people that are natural avoiders when it comes to conflict. Not to be confused with introverts, avoiders are people that have a way of dealing with people that is really different when conflicts arise (where for others their “normal” way of doing corresponds with the way they act in conflict). In conflict avoiders will always try to remove themselves from it and retract. It might make working easier, because you won’t have to battle so much, but it is both unhealthy and unproductive, because you might miss out on the great things the other person has to offer.
The keyword here is “trust”. There is a high chance that the other party is avoiding conflict because they don’t fully trust you.
A couple of ideas to deal with avoiders:
- First off: remember that the only person you can change is yourself. You might need to accept the fact that the other person is an avoider and will never turn into someone that seeks fight.
- If you disagree, make sure that you do not raise your voice. Instead, focus on the issue at hand. Anger and a loud voice might trigger the fear that causes the other party to pull out.
- If you notice that the other party is pulling away, gently pull the back in by reiterating that the argument is not about them, but that this is is a safe space to disagree.
- A conflict avoider might need more time to think before they come up with a reaction to your point of view. Detect and respect.
- Some conflict avoiders may find a different method of communication or a different location more comfortable. Just try if it works to discuss over email, phone or in a completely different location.