Insights from the Pavement: Managing Conflict Interaction

While on the road, we’ll undoubtedly run into myriad characters from all walks of life and in various states of openness to foreigners.  Most of the time these interactions are extremely rewarding and all parties leave with anything from a simple, mild appreciation of the encounter to a very happy memory of the time spent together.  And then there are the “other” exchanges.

Sparing the explanation for this last remaining type of encounter, they really hold the possibility to ruin our day, to stymie our inertia and to darken our disposition – if we let it.  But that’s up to us, as it turns out.


If we think back to the last confrontation that we had with a coworker or family member, what could we have done to resolve the issue?  Could we have walked away?  Probably not, if we wanted to maintain that relationship.  But was there perhaps a part of our personality that stood in the way of a more resolute ending to that situation?  Did we perhaps keep that situation going on longer than we should have because we felt we needed to win something or prove that we were stronger in the end?

Fore-arming ourselves with the general scope of conflict resolution, or the “laws of the land,” will assist us in gaining the confidence that we may need to make more appropriate decisions in these situations. Sometimes a subtle response is necessary to resolve an issue.  Sometimes a more aggressive, proactive initiative is what is needed to come away from a dispute on top.  In either case, each instance of tension needs to be seen as a platform holding the involved individuals in the fracas until one or all make the move to appease the situation.

This platform of conflict is supported only by the abilities of those standing on that particular platform at that particular time.  So if our ideology, wit or agenda is lacking, that platform is destined to topple.  This will lead to a less than optimal end to our conflict.  And we would do much better to realize that we not only have the ability to manage our own support of that base, but also to manipulate that of others as well – especially if we are conscious of their motivations or their general tack in confrontational situations.

While on the road it is best not to make too many assumptions about the nature of personalities in the host country.  But if a confrontation arises, remember that our mind is our most powerful tool in resolving these matters.  And at that point, it all comes down to how much we wish to invest in bringing our ends to fruition.  Do we want the situation to end immediately?  Are our goals worth remaining in the confrontation longer?  Or is it somewhere in between.

In any of these cases, it’s best to assess these last few questions at the very onset of each conflict.  It will aid in saving money, saving face and even saving pain.  And if we know how to manage the emotions of our opponent, we will always win, no matter if they ever realize it.

The only thing left to do after the conflict has ended and all parties have gone their separate ways is to look back on the experience with an open mind, knowing that we have the opportunity to learn a lot from our adversary – and for that, we should always be silently thankful to them for offering us this valuable lesson.  This will bring us one last moment of positivity in an otherwise negative moment in our lives.

Like this photo from this journal? Check out the album HERE.

My new book, Insights from the Pavement, is a collection of 101 Travel Oms just like this one. Look for it to be released soon.

Join the conversation, tell me what you think about this idea. Leave your comments below.



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