One way of coping with conflict is to sweep things under the rug. As you likely know, this metaphor refers to ignoring problems rather than facing and managing them. One idiomatic definition consistent with this from Wiktionary is “To conceal a problem expediently, rather than remedy it thoroughly.” Sometimes the tendency to sweep things under the rug comes with the hope that what is concealed will remain undiscovered.

Why do any of us sweep things under the rug? It may be because the truth is too painful to bear, or we fear the other person’s reaction and the consequences, or we hope things can be resolved without raising the issue. Maybe we perceive that what we are hiding is irrelevant and inconsequential. Or, it may be the elephant in the room.

For whatever reason we or others sweep things under the rug it is not likely that things get fully reconciled in a conflict when this happens. It also happens that what gets swept under often starts to seep out or appears as a lump under the idiomatic carpet. If you are sweeping things under the rug about a conflict or a potential one, this week’s ConflictMastery™ Quest(ions) will help explore the concept.

  • What is the specific situation in which you are sweeping things under the rug?
  • What are you sweeping under the rug?
  • Why are you doing so?
  • What is your biggest concern regarding those reasons (your answer(s) to the previous question)?
  • What does the rug represent?
  • What is there to be gained by sweeping the thing(s) you identified under the rug?
  • What is there to be lost by doing so? What is to be gained?
  • How is or are the thing(s) you are sweeping under the rug likely to reveal itself or themselves, in any case?
  • What would it take for you to face and manage the thing(s) you are tending to conceal in this conflict?
  • What is the best case scenario if you do not sweep things under the rug? How might you make that happen?

What other ConflictMastery™ Quest(ions) may you add here?

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