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Conflict may occur when there is a disagreement between people. Contradictory values, priorities, beliefs and opinions create contention. Quite often a quarrel of some nature may occur.

Conflicts often involve:

  1. Strong emotions

  2. Fixed standpoint

  3. Unwillingness to compromise

  4. Limited perspective

  5. Stubbornness

  6. Lack of compassion

  7. Raised voices

  8. Verbal, emotional or physical violence

The opposition of ideas can lead to bitterness, hostility and a great deal of upset.

Negative emotions

Negative emotions are biologically harmful and can make you ill.
When you become angry, your body is flooded with hormones and adrenaline; you enter a '
fight or flight' mode which is only intended for extreme situations in which your life is endangered.
'Fight or flight' puts your body under duress. Tai chi encourages a person to change the way they think in order to reduce the likelihood of becoming angry.



Conflict typically involves emotional turmoil, anxiety and stress. Is it worth the effort? Many disagreements are exceptionally petty and essentially meaningless.
Consider: football fans will assault fans of an opposing team on sight. For what reason? If one team or the other wins, what difference does it make? Is the world a better place?
Has a tyrannical despot been overthrown? Did someone cure cancer? Have the peoples of the Third World been fed?

When somebody seeks to argue with you, it is important to ask yourself what the contention is really about. If the disagreement is pointless, is there any reason to get into conflict?
Pride, ego, insecurity, distemper - these are not adequate reason for conflict. They are just excuses.


If we listen to other people, we realise that there are many sides to every situation. It is often possible to avoid conflict. People do not care to listen these days. They are too busy talking.
Too eager to promote their own agenda. Listening is a skill. It requires practice and patience.


We must not only listen to what the other person is saying, we must also listen to how we respond to it. Our reactions are very important.
If a friend jokingly insults you, you may just laugh it off. But if a stranger does the same you may be offended. Why? Do you not value your friend's opinion over that of a stranger?
Why should you care what a stranger thinks? What difference can it possibly make?
Our responses need to be considered. Pay particular attention to emotions. 
Anger, aggression and resentment are extremely destructive. People often react on impulse. Their response may be ill-conceived and careless. Do not take yourself quite so seriously.


If we can accept that the world does not revolve around you personally, then that is a starting place. Other people have wants, needs and feelings too.
Many people walk this earth as if they personally owned it. Everyone else is a cast member in some monumental production staged for their benefit. Wake up.
It is not all about you. Do not implicate yourself in every situation. Sometimes things happen and you are an unexpected victim. This is not nice, but it was not about you personally.
Do not make everything personal.


A selfish person is pushy. They like to get their own way. They are quite comfortable pushing others around. Do you like being pushed around? How does it make you feel?
Bullying other people is unpleasant. It is one of the less savoury aspects of human conduct. Are you a bully?

No lies. No excuses

It is easy to blame other people for conflict. People instinctively lash out and seek to blame someone else. Try being honest. No lies. No excuses. Are you blameless?
Have you played any small part in creating conflict or were you simply on the receiving end?
Be genuine about this. It is impossible to make progress if you deny the truth.
Being sullen and resentful only perpetuates conflict. It is important to find the source of disharmony if you desire to move past it. Being willing to change is imperative.


Do you anticipate conflict in your everyday life? Do you live in fear? Is your fear genuine or are you just overly-sensitive? The problem with fear is that much of it is imagined.
People create their own problems by becoming anxious about everyday situations. They blow things out of proportion. They over-react. Are you holding onto an image?
Men puff up their chest and strut around like a rooster in an attempt to look 'hard'. This kind of behaviour is designed to intimidate would-be assailants.
It only serves to make the individual look weak, fearful and insecure. It advertises their fear.

I have seen schools where some of the students show disrespect to the teacher by not paying him on time, by being frequently late to class, and by not informing the teacher when a class must be missed.

(John Lash) 


Being a considerate person makes life much easier. You notice other people, you pay attention to their moods, wants and needs. This does not entail any form of subservience or simpering.
You are simply aware. In the here and now. Paying attention. Listening. It is surprising what you notice when you stop your internal narrative and look at what is going on around you.
You may see common ground between you and someone else. Your interests and agendas may not be all that different. Instead of fighting, you could simply talk.
Do you need to win? Is it necessary to get your point across? Who cares if the other person does not understand? Instead of getting into a conflict, ask yourself: is there another option?



Compassion is not about being soppy or becoming a monk. It is about caring. When you wake up and see that everyone else is pretty much the same as you, you stop being such a jerk.
Instead of treading on people, you help them. Instead of causing conflict, you avoid it. People who see themselves in others start treating strangers quite differently.
We all want pretty much the same things: love, food, shelter, piece of mind, security, kindness, financial and emotional comfort. What is so special about you? Aren't you just the same as everyone else?

Internal conflict

The source of all conflict resides within. We experience reality within our minds. Our minds interpret what our senses encounter, and we filter that information relative to our conditioning.
The difference between a peaceful person and an aggressive individual is perception. If we want to get along with other people we must address our own mind and emotions.
This is where the problem lies.


Sifu Waller aims to address combat without resorting to undue violence. Violence against violence can lead to further escalation. We simply desire to evade conflict and escape unharmed.
There is no ego involved, no desire to win or claim a trophy. We learn how to incapacitate the attacker smoothly and easily. Then we walk away.

Non-violent communication

It is quite possible to communicate with other people without hostility and conflict. We can share ideas in an amiable way, even if we are in disagreement with one another.
Emotional awareness and composure represent the key. When your emotions are balanced and calm, you can think clearly and see more.
You notice things and can respond intuitive and sensitively, rather than blundering around carelessly. Our choice of words can be well-chosen, without being false or manipulative.
Zen/the Tao might suggest that we respond with silence. This is not an invitation to be rude. It indicates that talk is not always necessary or beneficial.

No fixed result

Taking another person's feeling into account means that we can avoid being accusatory or hostile. We can discuss things rationally and sensibly. The aim is not to find a solution or even to win.
Rather, we simply want to explore the possibilities together. A shared journey of discovery is far more productive than starting out with a fixed agenda.
Who can say where the conversation may lead, or what unforeseen elements may emerge?

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Page created 18 April 1995
Last updated 04 May 2023