Dealing with Conflict: A Personal Experience

My husband and I recently moved into a condo.  We love our new home.  It suits us perfectly.  We are within walking distance of great restaurants, the Winnipeg Goldeyes baseball stadium, The Forks and Osborne Village.  But, as the old expression goes, nothing is perfect, and we’ve discovered our little fly in the ointment.

The parking spots are in the back and are quite narrow.  Thankfully, I drive a small car, which gives me a little bit of wiggle room on either side.  Wrong!  Since moving in, two very nasty notes have been left on my windshield.  They are written in black marker and include phrases like ‘stop infringing on my space’, ‘smarten up or else’ and ‘the management company will be called’.

I do try to hit the middle, but freely admit I sometimes miss dead center.  It’s not so far over that it infringes on anyone else’s space though.

The first note I just chalked up to a bad day. We all have them.  In hindsight, I realize that perhaps the writer (who did not leave a name, but did leave a condo number) took that as disrespectful.  When the second note was left on my car, I saw red.  The hostility, the threats and the implied accusation that I was deliberately missing center angered me.  Fortunately, one thing I have mastered is to NEVER, EVER respond when emotions are high.

One initial, entirely inappropriate suggestion my husband had, which is brilliant in a passive-aggressive kind of way, was to rent a Hummer for a week or so. That would show ‘em!  But once I took a step back (ok, a lot of steps back) and got my emotions under control, I was able to look at the situation more calmly.

The condo owner is older and does not have a car.  When friends come over, they use the owner’s parking spot.  Some of the friends are also older and a few drive big cars.  Getting a large car into a small spot is challenging.  Is it my problem they choose to drive a big car?   No, but I can understand their frustration.

I reminded myself that I cannot control other people or their actions; I can only control mine.  I also needed to decide what was more important.  Striking back or peace?  Proving I was in the right or an amicable relationship with my neighbours?  I decided my goal was peace, with all my neighbours.  If that was my goal, how could I achieve it?

I apologized for the inconvenience, agreed that small parking spots are frustrating and extended an invitation to knock on our door or slip a note under our door if more room was needed. Hopefully that will bring an end to nasty notes and if not friendship, at least a cordial relationship.

Dealing with conflict is never fun.  When we are challenged, threatened or treated disrespectfully, resisting the urge to strike back is difficult.  Letting go of ego is difficult.  My three steps:  Breathe, get my emotions to neutral and focus on the goal.

What do you do when faced with conflict?

7 thoughts on “Dealing with Conflict: A Personal Experience

  1. You are a saint. I would have been so angry that someone would speak (or write) to me with such hostility. I love that you acted with kindness. How precious you are! This was a beautiful lesson. I can’t wait to see how it unfolds. 🙂

    • Oh, I am so not ready to be nominated for sainthood! My first reaction was anger, but fortunately, was able to recognize that an angry response would only make the situation worse. So, I gave myself time to calm down and to recognize that she had a right to her emotions (even though she did not not handle them well!). I waited to respond until then and am happy to report that so far, all is going very well. I’m not sure we’ll ever get to the point of having tea together, but the acrimonious dialogue has stopped.

  2. Laurie,

    I think you handled this REALLY well. But I’m sure it was difficult to not respond immediately when the second note was left.

    When things like this happen to me, I’ve learned to remind myself that the person’s behavior usually has nothing to do with me. This helps me to not take it personally.

    I love your three-step process. I think that’s very wise advice.

    I also agree that you and your husband shouldn’t tolerate being bullied if what you did hadn’t solved the problem.

    It seems like how situations like this are handled can make a big difference in the level of happiness that one has.

    • Oh, this was definitely not my first response! It took me two days to cool down. And if the “kill ’em with kindness” approach doesn’t work and nasty notes or threatening behavior continues, we won’t be bullied and will look at a plan B. However, we have since been told that our current parking job was “absolutely lovely”, although we were uncertain just how to take it considering the volume it was said in! Time will tell.

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