It has been said that we are the last person to know ourself. Apparently our judgement is clouded. I do however have what I believe are some fairly accurate details about certain of my characteristics. In particular I know that I abhor personal conflict and that my instinctive reaction to it is first, anger; and second, flight. Allow me to explain.
The anger thing is a reflection of my sense of inferiority or superiority (depending on whether I am rationalizing my hurt or aggression) and my impatience fuels the lot. The flight thing is a product of my supreme sense of individuality which enables me to snap my fingers at anyone and anything rather than confront the dilemma on its merits. Not having had any experience in a large corporate environment I learned instead to maneuver my way in the tight climate of sole proprietorship. From the time I was a boy at boarding school I have relied entirely upon myself. The independence was thus bred of necessity even though I prefer to think of it as a matter of choice. To this day I cannot recall ever having asked anyone about what I should do about anything; it was never even a consideration.
It is this background of bloody-mindedness which mitigates against my capacity for dispute resolution. I mean to say, anger, impatience and running away from a problem are hardly the most desirable ingredients for diplomacy. While I would like to report that I have learned to adopt a conciliatory approach to personal differences, the truth is I have merely camouflaged my disdain. For example, I have adopted that entirely pragmatic decision to avoid direct confrontation. The object of course is to preserve the appearance of charity while secretly harbouring animosity. Aside from whatever temporary satisfaction there might be of “getting it off your chest”, I am not convinced that unfiltered vituperation is a wise choice; it may just precipitate further anxiety. Better to go on record as having said “only the nicest things”. Another similar tactic is blunt ignorance; that is, the purposeful avoidance of those who irk me. Given enough time any annoyance will ultimately evaporate. This can be a tricky stratagem if one is unable to dodge an encounter; but barring regular social conventions it is normally possible with artful subtlety to fall between the cracks of routine gatherings.
I suppose a more important analysis would be directed to the cause of the personal differences. It requires an enormous awakening for me to confess that I find someone to be unpleasant and horrible. I am constantly making excuses for less than favourable behaviour of others; and perhaps I am too lacking in insight to identify a reciprocal dislike or disapproval. It is after all so much easier to qualify and “explain” one’s own conduct than to deliver the same extension to one’s associates, family and friends. With the persuasive effect of time and distance, almost any conflict melts away. This might appear to be the ambition but it falls short of a complete gratification because one has never dealt with the issue on its merits. The process more distinguishes itself by what it isn’t than what it is.
Lately I have reasoned that rather than tolerate a disagreeable situation – whether through ignorance or the effluxion of time – I would rather identify a conundrum for what it is and react accordingly. The addition of this particular element tends to expedite the mechanics, not just toying with the unpalatable food on your plate but returning it to the kitchen. Like any process of elimination one has to be prepared for a narrowing of scope.