Peacemaker vs PeaceKeeper: Which One Are You?

Part of a successful relationship is accepting and embracing conflict. Conflict is inevitable. You will have disagreements.

Instead of working to determine who is right and who is wrong, your first priority needs to be resolving conflict and strengthening your relationship. You may be able to get away with running from conflict for a short time, but eventually it will catch up to you.

You can’t outrun your problems.

Eventually, you’ll need to face the music and address the conflict. Or suffer the consequences of ignoring the issues at hand. Ignoring your needs and the needs of the other person may result in arguments and misunderstandings that create distance. And lead to break-ups or broken relationships.

If you are currently running from conflict and disagreements, it’s time for you to consider some new possibilities and new goals for your relationship. If you are faking peace to play the relationship game but are secretly harboring anger and resentment – I hope to encourage you to discuss how you feel with the other party.

If you are the type that stays silent and stuffs down your feelings and needs to keep the peace in your relationship – I hope to provide you with the tools necessary to create meaningful and lasting relationships.

What Are Your Goals for Your Relationships?

Have you considered how you want to show up in your relationships? Creating a vision with the end in mind can be helpful. If you want your relationships to stand the test of time, it’s important to consider how you are currently showing up. It’s important to gain some self-awareness and take an objective look at how you are currently handling conflict.

Which brings the ultimate question – are you the peacemaker or the peacekeeper in the relationship?

Understanding the value of peacemaking and conflict resolution will take you a long way in building lasting connections with those around you. Learning the tools that are needed to navigate the struggles and challenges you’ll inevitably encounter is paramount.

Offering peace and reconciliation to the relationship while honestly and openly communicating your needs effectively is what having a successful relationship is all about. We want to employ the win-win mindset versus the need to be right and win the latest argument.

The goal here is a harmonious, peaceful, cooperative, compassionate, and loving relationship that deepens and grows over time through conflict resolution, mercy, grace, honesty, and understanding.

Understanding Conflict – Why It’s Important

Conflict is a part of life. It occurs when we disagree with others. It can occur over:

  • Needs
  • Values
  • Ideas
  • Beliefs
  • Perceptions
  • Opinions
  • Or desires

There are even times when these differences trigger strong feelings and emotions.

In my experience, there is often an unmet need at the root of the problem. Usually a person’s wellbeing feels threatened and those feelings don’t disappear until they are resolved. Conflict often arises from a place of hurt or pain. It can also come from a need to feel:

  • Safe
  • Secure
  • Loved
  • Cared for
  • Valued
  • Or respected

Conflict can also occur when we judge others or view their actions in a negative way. This happens when we start to see a person as:

  • bad
  • difficult
  • wrong
  • unloving
  • selfish

Everything they say or do is seen from that lens. It can become a habit. In these moments, we’re not allowing the other person to grow and change.

We’re not offering them the benefit of the doubt. We get locked into a place where we’ve painted them into a corner as our enemy. In essence, you’ve lit the fuse before they even say a word. Unforgiveness stands in the way of the connection you really want and need.

When we’re young, we carelessly give into temptation and say things to people we love that are unkind, hurtful, and reckless. Kids can be downright cruel to each other. They tend to speak their mind with relatively little concern for who they’ll hurt. They express themselves without thought, tact, or self-control.

Sadly, many adults give into the same temptations.

In the moment, letting loose and venting or projecting all of the hurt, pain, hostility, annoyance, disappointment, and frustration is tempting and may feel liberating. It may seem like you are letting go of what you’ve been bottling up inside and that you are now free of the burden, but that is rarely the case.

If you are careless with your words, you can create a world of hurt and a whole new set of circumstances and problems that need to be resolved. So, what are the tools needed to become a peacemaker? To understand peacemaking, let’s first take a look at what it’s not. For starters, peacemaking is not peacekeeping.

What Is Peacekeeping?

Peacekeeping is an attempt to preserve peace and not “rock the boat”. In this case, true peace is still a long way away. Peacekeeping is unhealthy in personal and professional relationships because it lacks honesty and a willingness to truly understand what is bothering the other person.

Peacekeeping is harboring resentment and thinking negative thoughts, but choosing to stay silent. True lasting change comes from a willingness to communicate openly and honestly about your thoughts, needs, feelings, and desires. Instead of telling yourself, “it’s not worth it or I’m just going to let it slide” ask yourself, “what can I do to help solve this issue and improve this situation?”

Peacemaking = Not Peace-Faking

Peacemaking is not peace-faking. I’m sure you know the type. The person that claims everything is “fine” or says, “it’s all good”, but is living in total stress and chaos. They are faking peace not making peace.

You may be thinking to yourself, what’s the difference? Peace-faking is rather easy. You just put on your happy face and pretend. Peacemaking is something altogether different.

Let me explain.

What Is Peacemaking?

Peacemaking is a willingness to bring things into the open and actually deal with them. It stems from a desire to bring about healing and restoration. It’s about honest communication and relationship development.

In our personal relationships or in a loving committed relationship, we don’t want to sweep issues under the rug. We want to deal with them now so that we can avoid anger and resentment creeping into and dividing our relationships.

“…real peace and unity can only exist where truth reigns.” – Burk Parsons

How to Start Being a Peacemaker

Being proactive is key. We want to tackle conflict as it arises rather than wait until it threatens to destroy the entire relationship. Instead of viewing conflict as something that’s bad, view it as an opportunity. Seeking peace has the potential to create a deeper, more satisfying bond. Both parties can walk away with a greater respect, admiration, and appreciation for the other person.

It’s important to be willing to listen to the other party and truly try to see things from their perspective. In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven R. Covey said, “Seek first to understand before being understood.” Ask questions and truly listen to what the other person has to say. And, respect what they have to say. The goal is for each party to walk away feeling as if they’ve won.

As for myself, I am known for speaking my mind and communicating my needs, feelings, and thoughts. But there have been times when I’ve chosen to stay silent in an effort to keep the peace…

How Do You Know When to Speak Up and When to Stay Silent?

Sometimes I keep my mouth shut because I’m afraid that in the heat of the moment, I’ll say something that I’ll regret later. Those are the times that I make a mental note to write about what I’m feeling and sort out my thoughts, feelings, and needs before I attempt to communicate.

Sometimes, I’m afraid that I’ll hurt someone with my truth, so I caution myself to think through my needs and pray about what I want to say before I engage with that person. It is possible to share your truth and be gentle, kind, and respectful.

The takeaway: take the time you need to simmer down your emotions and feel calm before you deal with an issue.

It’s important to engage gently and with self-control. You can’t take back the things you speak into existence. I like to remind myself and my relationship coaching clients that you are not fighting against each other. You’re on the same team. The goal is to bring about peace, healing, and a better, more satisfying relationship.

If you experience conflict but recognize it as a minor offense, you always have the option to overlook it. If you’re unsure whether the offense is something to ignore or something that needs to be discussed, give yourself some time. Pull out the notes section in your phone or grab your journal and write about the issue and then sleep on it.

If in a few days, the issue is still bothering you, you know it’s time to discuss it. On the other hand, if you forget about the issue, it’s safe to say that you can let it go and forgive the offending party. If you decide to let it slide, don’t harbor any bitterness or resentment.

Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”
– Saint Augustine

Know When To Walk Away

If you sense that the person you’re in conflict with won’t listen to you or respect your needs, feelings, thoughts, and ideas – it may be a losing battle. They may be unwilling to compromise. At times like this, it’s worth it to accept and acknowledge that reality rather than trying to push for resolution. There are people out there that allow their pride and egos to get in the way. They need to win at all costs.

“You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run.”
– Kenny Rogers, The Gambler

And some people just don’t have the capacity to listen open-mindedly to another person. Or, they may have trouble recognizing and responding to the things that matter to another person. Others can’t handle their emotions and aren’t comfortable with anyone else’s emotions either.

If you are out of touch with your feelings and needs, you won’t be able to understand and communicate those feelings and needs to others. Emotional awareness is key.

When It Comes to Your Relationships – You’re In The Driver Seat

You are only responsible for yourself and how you show up in your relationships. You have to accept others for who they are and where they are on their journey. True acceptance of a situation means being tolerant and open-minded. Be flexible and don’t hold a grudge. It’s unfair to hold others to higher standards that you wouldn’t hold yourself to.

The heaviest thing to carry is a grudge, so choose forgiveness.

Keep in mind that we are all human and we’re just trying to do the best we can. We must be willing to forgive and extend mercy and grace to others. We don’t have to agree with the other person, but it is important to forgive and bask in the peace that comes from extending love and forgiveness.

It’s important to feel safe when you open up and share your thoughts, feelings, and concerns. There may be times and circumstances when you need a neutral third party to help you navigate a conflict.

And that’s where I come in. I’m here to help you navigate the waters of life so you can create the happy and healthy relationships you want. I work with couples to help each party be seen, heard, and understood so that they can deepen their bond and grow their connection.

Whether it’s remedying a current relationship or finding the new relationship of your dreams. If you’re ready to really dive into all I have to offer you, contact me here for your free discovery session.

On this quick no-obligation call, we’ll discuss your relationships goals and dreams, and how I can help you cultivate or remedy what’s lacking in your life.

Sometimes these tools take time and lots of practice to implement effectively. Sometimes, having a coach or therapist work with you will help open your mind to new possibilities. That’s why support is essential.

Because some people truly fear conflict and try to run from it, but conflict is unavoidable. It’s all about how we respond to it. We have the power to resolve it peacefully and seek reconciliation.

We have the choice to walk away feeling good about ourselves and how we showed up in a situation, or we can choose to walk away with more pain and regret. It’s time to set goals for yourself and plan for painful inflection points so that you can create the habits you need to succeed.