This has nothing to do with me wanting to know if you are happy. This question focuses on conflict. Not what you were thinking was it? But the application for this question when engaged in a conflict situation is vitally important.

It is very hard, if not impossible to produce a genuine smile when in conflict with another person. I know I can’t smile when I am upset. Joy and anger are completely conflicting emotions that just don’t compute when trying to come together.

So how do we apply this question when in conflict? Instead of thinking of what it means to smile in the middle of conflict (probably not appropriate anyway…I know my wife doesn’t like it), let’s look at it a little differently.

Let’s start with the pre-conflict conversation. A conversation you know you have to have with someone that you are almost certain will not go well. Either because of how you believe the person will respond or because of your current emotional state. Can you smile? No? You are not ready to have the conversation.

If we do not have a handle on our own emotions before having a needed conversation with someone, it is almost always (keyword: almost) not the right time to have the conversation. We cannot force another person to be sincerely apologetic or even aware of what they did that produced the need for the conversation.

Therefore, it is more important to your well-being and health to forgive the person first. Then, you will be able to genuinely smile, because inside, you are okay. Now it’s time to have the conversation. That doesn’t mean it’s going to be perfect and some emotions won’t get stirred up again, but at least you are going about it the right way.

On the other hand, sometimes conflict just happens. People misunderstand each other and an argument ensues, or feelings get hurt and people walk away mad. When it’s over and you are separate from the person you are upset or frustrated with, can you smile? No? Then something has been left unresolved. Again, this takes forgiveness, not for the other person’s sake, but your wellbeing.

Once you have forgiven and can genuinely smile, your mind is probably a lot clearer. You can analyze the situation in a better way; understanding what stirred up your emotions and how to then have a proper conversation with the other person.

This is the number one question I ask myself before engaging with another human being. It’s not always due to conflict or even the other person, sometimes I may just be a little stressed because I had a long day. Can I smile? No? I better take a minute to get my heart and mind right before I start engaging.

So, are you smiling?