Instead of resolving conflicts, what if you actually wanted to perpetuate them? Maybe, it suits your agenda to keep fights alive with folks you don't particularly like. You’re hoping to tire them out. Or get them so freaked out that they forget to think clearly. You’re not the one to shy away from fights. In fact, once in a while you love to draw in energy from strife and squabble. Perhaps it suits you to keep things simmering so that your opposition is confused, often miscalculates, and makes enough mistakes to keep going round in circles. Well, there could be many solid reasons to stir the pot and make merry! Although it may seem otherwise, the good news is it doesn't take much effort actually. In fact there are quite a few time-tested strategies that you can rely on.
Alright, maybe you really aren't wired in your brain this way. You’d rather keep your peace of mind and enjoy it too. You might still want take a look at these strategies, though. After all, there are many folks out there who are indeed wired in this manner. At times on purpose, and often unwittingly they do everything it takes to keep conflicts go on and on. For those on the receiving end though, this is as close to hell as it can ever get. It helps to be adept to spot these strategies before it is too late.
Let’s look at three in particular.
The Injured Victim Act:
Convincing yourself that you’ve been unfairly victimized by someone is a high returns strategy that works well most of the time. It pits you, the simple and straightforward victim agains the evil aggressor. The stuff that many conflict dramas are made of. After all, with a demonic tormentor snapping at your heels, what can you possibly do?
Never mind… there were enough options for you to walk out of the unfavorable situation. Of course, some of those options came with some pain. Small details like your own contribution to the mess don't matter. Don't worry, there’s no need to go full-on with lies either. Somehow connect unrelated events, situations, facts and half-truths. Tell everyone you meet how you were unfairly pushed around. How you were forced to make compromises. Your personal responsibility to address the situation is at best a forgotten footnote. Your helplessness against the unmatched evil nature of your opposition is a perfect narrative. It helps you avoid constructive action. The pot keeps boiling over, just as you wanted it! You’re entitled to your victimhood after all. And you must “fight back” and secure your territory.
Come Hell or High Water, Obstinately ‘defend’ these!
Our values, beliefs and assumptions drive so many of our decisions in life, big and small. Career choices, eating preferences, relationships, entertainment options… There’s hardly any area in life that isn't impacted by them. It is natural that we’d want to defend our values and beliefs whenever there’s a threat perception.
And, therein lies a great opportunity to go overboard, and attract more strife. Again, this is pretty straightforward. Pretend to be outraged and aghast over perceived threats to your values and beliefs, howsoever trivial the issue. Just allow your imagination to run riot. Take minor issues or disagreements and completely blow them out of proportion. Start hyperventilating whenever you can, as though your very existence is being threatened. Accuse others of being dismissive and insensitive to you and your beliefs. Don't stop at that. Portray them as offensive aggressors who are going after you. Talk to anyone who’d listen. Exaggerate at every step, and paint your opposition as thoroughly mean and unscrupulous to the core.
Offense is a good tactic, so that you can ignore any uncomfortable evidence that may expose your claims. The idea is to create so much din and cacophony that reasoned discussions just aren't happening. Don't allow others to question the validity of your assumptions. You maybe driven by vanity and ego, but don't look the part. Feign outrage whenever you can. Blend facts and fiction nicely, so that more people agree you’ve got every right to defend yourself. After all, you're raring for a fight.
Defensive it is!
There’s something called constructive conflict, and then there’s all the other kinds too. Getting people to operate out of strong defensive and negative emotional states is a brilliant recipe for the latter.
After all, you’re looking for recurring discord! You must engineer dysfunctional behavior in others. As often as you can. You can make a start by channeling your own fears, insecurities, hatred, anger, doubts, grief, and frustration. Invoke as many of them as possible. Feel those feelings fully.
And this is how you’ll do it…Don’t pay much attention to what’s going right. The other person may have done good deeds. Keep ignoring those, and instead focus on all their faults. Keep observing every lapse with a microscope. Use rigid and even absurd standards to “assess” and “rate” them. Attribute malevolent motives to every misstep, omission and aberration. Stay economical with facts. Make illogical inferences and incorrect conclusions. That’s how you’ll muddy the waters. Even if you know you’re exaggerating, don't bother. Make copious mental notes, and store every bit of “evidence” of their wrongdoing in your own database. You’ll need all this data to portray them as not just mean, but also quite imperfect.
Now’s the time for the killer move! Confuse them, and other onlookers with some good ol’ chicanery. Make public displays of goodwill towards them once in a while. Play the part of the magnanimous compulsive do-gooder. You’ll get to keep your brownie points. Turn off the switch soon, and again do things that’ll make them defensive. Push their hot buttons and engineer their auto-reponses. Words or actions of the on-the-spur-of-the-moment kind will do. You want them to make a spectacle of themselves. A few blunders is all you want really.
Provoke and do everything possible, (without batting an eyelid) so that they attack you first. You’re too smart not to let go of the golden opportunity. Just fire all of your guns at once!
Desperate for a change, they may even try engaging in some constructive conflict resolution. Once in a while you can play along, just for the right publicity. But again provoke them. And keep shouting to everyone “I told you do so”.
So, as you can see, it isn't that difficult to sustain a state of friction. You can mess up your own peace of mind and that of others.
Even if you aren't like this, spend some time to reflect on these points. Observe those who indulge in such behaviour. Understanding these behavioral patterns will help you identify options to change the narrative to one that’s more empowering and uplifting.
Write down three things you’ll do differently to change the narrative!