Conflict at work or home isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Better decisions, greater creativity and stronger relationships come from sorting through differences of opinion and perspective.
But poorly handled or ineffectively resolved conflict, on the other hand, is a problem. Just ask your heart.
I’ve mentioned prior research connecting heart health to conflict (see, for example, Hearts Hurt When Spouses Spat). Now two studies in the news offer insights on conflict and stress on both the home and work fronts.
In My Job’s Giving Me a Heart Attack, research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association concludes “you’re more likely to have a second heart attack if you work in a stressful job. Other studies have shown you’re also more likely to have that first heart attack if your work is stressful.” While not new information about first heart attacks, this is the first research I can recall that ties continued workplace stress with a second.
And in Marital Spats, Taken to Heart, the New York Times discusses the particularly detrimental effects that self-silencing—the tendency to bottle up feelings during a fight—have on women:
”When you’re suppressing communication and feelings during conflict with your husband, it’s doing something very negative to your physiology, and in the long term it will affect your health,” said Elaine Eaker, an epidemiologist in Gaithersburg, Md., who was the study’s lead author. ”This doesn’t mean women should start throwing plates at their husbands, but there needs to be a safe environment where both spouses can equally communicate.”
There are times to hold your tongue and a times to speak up. Do you know how to choose wisely for your workplace, your relationships and your health?
Photo credit: Pablo Duarte