Some People Want Conflict

Posted By on December 8th

by Floyd Brown

Some people want conflict. They have just never really learned any other way. 

I came out of the movie theater with my family, and the other car was parked too close to mine on the driver’s side. I gently opened my door part-way to not hit the other car, and I squeezed into my car. There had been about an inch gap between the edge of my open door and the other car.

As I closed my door, I noticed the 60-something female driver of the other car peering at me through her passenger window. Her eyes were tight and piercing. I didn’t know what she could be upset about, so I continued to buckle my seat belt and put the key in the ignition.

Suddenly, the lady was on the passenger side of her car inspecting her door. She quickly spun around and her tight, pursed face was against my window. It was obvious she had something to say, so I rolled down the window.

She quickly snapped at me, “Your door hit my car.”

It’s possible that my car door touched her car as I entered my car because she had simply parked too close. If my car touched her car, the impact was certainly minor and there was no damage.

I’m not sure what the lady expected from me before she approached my car. She was obviously upset even after she confirmed there was no damage to her car. Did she feel compelled to continue on her emotional ride because she was now out of her car? Did she feel that if she returned to her car without saying something that she was being “pushed around”?

She certainly didn’t care that she played a role in the incident by parking her car too close to mine. She certainly didn’t pay attention or care that I had taken steps to avoid my door hitting her car. She either assumed I had not, or she saw my actions and decided I hadn’t done enough.

I had many choices while this lady’s twisted, angry face was planted at my window. Others would have denied that the door hit her car. Others would have told her they didn’t care about the door hitting her car because she was the one who caused the problem by parking too close. Others would have simply told her to stick her car where the sun don’t shine. I believe those were the responses she expected, maybe even wanted. This lady was braced for an argument – she didn’t care that her facts could be wrong; she didn’t care that her parking job was the real cause of the impact; she didn’t even care that the incident was so minor that there was no damage.

What would be the point of arguing with her? What would even be the point of explaining to her my side? She had no interest in feeling anything other than anger, and I wasn’t going to let her dictate my emotions.

I responded with a smile and softly said, “I’m not aware of the door hitting your car, but if it did, I’m sorry.”

She stepped back from my car and paused. My response seemed to confuse her. Where was the anger? Where was the confrontation? She snapped sharply, “You need to be more careful.”

She took another quick look at her car door to confirm there was no damage, and she walked back around to her driver’s side. She probably continued to bitterly complain for hours about the careless, insensitive jerk that slammed his door into her precious car. Meanwhile, I went back to enjoying time with my family. Let others stew in their own anger over meaningless interactions.

About the author

Keith Grossman helps individuals and businesses negotiate and manage conflict more comfortably. Keith is a Collaborative Attorney, a Family and Circuit Civil mediator certified by the Supreme Court of Florida, an Arbitrator qualified by the Florida Supreme Court, and an educator. Keith frequently lectures and facilitates training programs, works with individuals one-on-one, and writes articles on conflict management and negotiation topics. His e-workbooks, “What Is A Peace Chest?” and “How Do You Build A Peace Chest?“ are now available on Kindle.

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