Ah, the family reunion. It is a time for relatives to reconnect and rebond. But pity those family members who fail to attend . Inevitably, they become targets of complaints and friendly fire.
The conversation is all too familiar. Someone relates the story about an absent relative's behavior, which he found to be offensive. There is considerable speculation about the relative's motivation, and then the behavior is interpreted in light of that presumed motivation. A guilty verdict is pronounced, everyone agrees, and the group moves on to the next absentee.
The point is clear: We are not comfortable, and even fear, dealing straight up with conflict. We are taught to run away from conflict: "to turn the other cheek," "to let sleeping dogs lie," and that "if you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything." And so we retreat to the least-trying option, which is turning to third parties for temporary relief.
Fear is a killer of effective conflict management. Ineffective managers of conflict are afraid of the consequences of bringing highly charged issues out into the open . They do not encourage people to speak up, to share their opinions , to tell itand to be toldlike it is. And by their refusal to discuss certain issues, they create an implicit environment that devalues authentic discussion and promotes subterfuge and double-dealing.