A woman turns her back to the camera and looks out at the ocean. Here are 18 things that people are like.
It happens a lot: your boss asks you to do something you don’t have time for and that isn’t even part of your job, but you decide to update the chart anyway because, well, why argue? When you’re in a fight, your head says “cool” about 5,000 times in Jake Peralta’s voice, but the rest of your body is Amy Santiagoing. You can’t upset your superior officer at any cost, so you keep saying “cool” in Jake Peralta’s voice. If you try to avoid conflict as much as possible, that doesn’t mean you never stand up for yourself. It just means that it might not be your first reaction to say what you need. And how you handle a possible fight can tell you a lot about yourself.
Lillyana Morales, L.M.H.C., a psychotherapist, says that how a person deals with (or doesn’t deal with) conflict depends on their ability to cope, their life experiences, what they saw others do, and the implicit and explicit messages they got as they grew up about gender, race, culture, society, socioeconomic status, family expectations, and so much more. Because of this, not everyone who tends to avoid conflict has the same personality, but there are some common traits. For example, “Just walk away” might be a common phrase. Read on to find out 18 things about people who try to avoid confrontations.
You’re a thinker.
Someone who avoids conflict might think that a fight isn’t worth the trouble, so they leave or change the subject before things get worse. In other words, you don’t fight every war. When you look at a problem before it’s too late to do anything about it, you don’t waste your time or do any harm.
You try to make everyone happy.
Sherese Ezelle, L.M.H.C., a licenced behavioural therapist at One Medical, says that people often avoid confrontations because they don’t want to upset other people. You might know that you need to tell your best friend that it’s not okay to cancel plans for the fourth time in a row without giving a reason. But you tell yourself, “Hey, whatever they’re doing is important too.” Even if that’s true, it might be second nature for you to put your own needs lower on the list than those of others, or not even bring them up.
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If you’ve ever been in a difficult relationship, you know what can happen when people fight. Foresight tells you that it might not be worth it to approach someone, so you avoid it. April Masini, a relationship and etiquette expert and author in New York, says that someone who avoids confrontation may feel that their relationship with the person who upsets them is too important to risk with a fight.
You’re Laid Back
You might also stay out of trouble because you’re a laid-back person. “We all have a window of tolerance, and the size of this window varies from person to person,” says Morales. You might have a high tolerance because you’re good at letting things go. When other people are clearly in the wrong, it doesn’t worry you all that much. They’ll figure it out on their own time. And while you wait, you have some video games to play. It doesn’t make sense to worry about things you can’t change, right?
Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D., a psychotherapist and author of It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction, says that if you would never write an entire record about your ex like Olivia Rodrigo did, you might just have a more passive personality. “They know volatile people (like family) and tend to be drawn to them, but they are too shy to stand up for themselves, so they try to make them happy. Passivity isn’t always a bad thing, but when you don’t stand up for yourself when you should, your bad feelings will build up.
You could use a boost to your confidence.
If you know your girlfriend doesn’t like pizza, you might need to talk to yourself a little more before you say you really want to order pizza for your birthday. “It can be good to avoid conflict, and if that’s what you want, you can learn how to help it grow and change,” Morales tells Bustle. A big part of your fight, freeze, or Amy Santiago journey might be to work on having confidence in yourself and telling yourself that your needs count.
You Don’t Do Well Under Pressure
Getting hurt in a fight before will teach you pretty quickly to stay away from them. “[Conflict-avoiders] learned the hard way that the stress of confrontation makes them uncomfortable, so they avoid it the way a child who touches a hot stove learns not to do it again,” says Masini.
In other words, you might be avoiding that fight because you know it won’t end well. “Avoiding conflict is often a result of a bad experience that may have taught you that it’s better to stay away than to get involved,” Morales says. When something tells you to fight, run away, or stay still, it might be easier for you to just walk away. As the pressure builds, you start to sweat, feel your heart beat faster, and worry. Your first instinct is to leave the situation altogether.
…Or, You Handle Stress Well
Who needs to worry when you have a reliable Rolodex full of ways to solve problems? You may think it’s normal for other people to be upset about things like “Oh my God, he stood you up again” while you plan for the next important thing. Whether that’s because you like your high-pressure job or because you’re a Capricorn who’s been to therapy for years, you avoid disagreement because you know how to solve it.
You like the way things are.
“People who avoid confrontation tend to value peace and the status quo,” Masini tells Bustle. “They don’t like being surprised, and they like routines where they have a better chance of staying out of trouble.” You can escape conflict if you don’t go off track. You like to know what to expect from the beginning to the end of your day.
But just because you like things to stay the same doesn’t mean you’re not open to new ideas. Your friends might like how open-minded you are. It’s easy for you to see both sides of an argument, but you’d rather not say what you think about something if it’s going to swing heavily in one direction or the other.
“People who don’t want to get into fights will keep the conversation light,” Masini says. “They will avoid and change the subject of any talk that involves conflict or a hot topic. Because it’s easier for them to handle, they only talk about the surface of things and put more value on events than on deep thoughts.
Tessina says that people who avoid conflict may be hard workers because they want to make sure everyone is happy. Most of the time, people who work hard have a lot on their minds and try to do as much as they can in a short amount of time or all at once. Overachiever great is another word for this.
You Keep Feelings Inside “People who avoid confrontation may be very angry on the inside because they have kept their feelings hidden for years,” says Tessina. “They can be shy, but not always,” she said. It’s normal, okay, and possible to hold on to feelings after years of avoiding conflict and not standing up for yourself. If you tend to hold grudges or keep your feelings to yourself, it could be because of this trait.
You’re easy to shut down.
When you see a fight coming, you run for cover, because who wants to deal with the stress that comes with it? “People who avoid confrontation feel like helpless children around the angry person, who seems like a parent, so they don’t have the power to stand up,” Tessina tells Bustle. “It will be easier if you remember that you are an adult and on the same level as the person you need to talk to.” In the moment, shutting down might be less scary than standing up for yourself, but practise can make it just a little bit easier.
You are scared of emotional honesty.
You don’t want to wear your heart on your sleeve. “It can be hard to say what you really think because you might be seen as hard to get along with and less desirable than someone who avoided the conflict,” Ezelle says. You think that the best way to avoid being turned down is to not say anything, so you tend to keep your thoughts to yourself.
You are sure of yourself.
You know what you want and what you don’t want, but that doesn’t mean you feel like you have to say it right now. You think it’s normal to watch what’s going on with other people without getting involved, even if it’s for your own good.
You take your time to decide.
You can feel very comfortable standing up for yourself, but only after you’ve had some time alone to think about it. If something feels off to you in a conversation, you might not be quick to say something about it. Instead, you should think about it and maybe talk about how you feel with some people you trust before you say something that could cause a fight.
You’re getting over some hard things.
Morales says that turning away from strife is sometimes a part of the healing process. “It may not be a good idea to practice assertive communication in abusive relationships, environments, or situations,” she says. That means that if you’ve been abused before, you may have learned to put your feelings last and not speak up about them.