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Cross-Cultural Conflict Avoidance

While avoiding allows conflict to go unresolved or projects responsibility on to others for solving the problem (Fletcher, 2012), it does not allow these individuals to preserve important goals, values and ideas – nor does it allow them to preserve relationships (Elmer, 1993, p 36). From a Westerner point of view, the ideal that avoiding conflict somehow causes it to go away most often creates the dynamic in which the individual ends up with weak or superficial relationships and little to no influence on important decisions (Elmer, 1993, p 36). However, Elmer (1993) does argue that strategic withdrawal can be a wise choice when emotions are running high and if the confrontation may cause someone to act unwisely or lose control (p 39). Conflict avoidance is also wise when the potential consequences of confrontation are too serious (Elmer, 1993, p 39). As Elmer (1993) puts it, avoiding conflict can be a sign of wisdom and maturity in some cases and in others it may signal an unwillingness to discuss important issues or a refusal to take a stand on a given decision (p 39).

Compromising within conflict resolution in fact seeks to set a middle ground between two parties (Fletcher, 2012). However, Elmer (1993) argues many simply give in to accommodate or smooth over the differences (p 39). Some may see most issues as negotiable and differences not worth fighting about (Elmer, 1993, p 39). Those who are more apt to accommodate are most often willing to forfeit personal goals and values and can be taken advantage of since they are most likely unable to say no (Elmer, 1993,  p39). Contrary to the Western view of conflict resolution, our Asian counterparts are more likely to work to prevent conflicts or avoid them altogether (Fletcher, 2012).


Fletcher, Juanita (2012).  Retrieved from her posting: Blackboard Dialogues for Doctorate in Strategic Leadership, Regent University, Virginia Beach, VA.

Elmer, Duane (1993). Cross-Cultural Conflict. Building Relationships for Effective Ministry. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.


Philip A Foster, MA is Founder/CEO of Maximum Change Inc. Elevating leaders and their organizations to the next level since 2005. Master Certified Coach, Philip A Foster, MA and his associates facilitate effective positive change by helping organizations, leaders and individuals in high demand — design and implement strategies that maximize focus and deliver results. Specializing in Organization and Strategic Leadership.

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