You may need to ask a third party for help in resolving the conflict to deal with your sense of overwhelm. That is why I will never be out of a job as a farm family coach. Farm families are entangled in the avoidance dance, and they want it to stop.
If you keep avoiding, others around you will avoid all hot issues to take care of you, but I can tell you right now, they are sick and tired of walking on eggshells on your farm.
Their other option is to get really mad, which is called escalating, and they threaten to leave. Either of these dances sets in motion a destructive system. “You may see yourself as the victim, or as the one who is right but persecuted,” says Wilmont. He says you can change your sense of self by adopting new, risky, but rewarding conflict skills.
Here are his tips for working with your own avoidance:
Safety Comes First
If you do not feel protected, you can’t use productive conflict skills. If your partner shows any history or signs of physically harming you, work only with a third party. If you own a grain bagger, be careful. I have seen this machine cause father and son come to fisticuffs on more than one occasion!
Take Breaks If You Freeze When You Are Afraid
Let others know what is going on, “This is hard for me, I need to take a break, but I will be back.” You won’t be seen as an avoider but as a careful person. In mediation, we call these “caucus” breaks where the person speaks privately to the mediator to get their bearings and more understanding or information.
Ask for the Dance
Learn to initiate conversations rather than waiting. John Gottman calls this “making quick repair.” Don’t let issues fester and boil. Engage!
Ask for Help If You Are Stuck
The greatest gift we can give each other is the sense of being heard. Talk to a professional third party, the farm stress line counselor or a trusted friend to work out how you want to address your conflict situation. I have many resources on my website to encourage better conflict resolution. “How to Have Better Family Fights” is one of my most-watched webinars. You’ll find it at www.elainefroese.com.