The Difference Between Being a Peacekeeper and Peacemaker in Your Relationships: Which are you?

Veronica Powell, PhD

Estimated Read Time 3 Minutes 

Have you ever found yourself trying to please everyone, just to keep the peace?

Or have you felt like you were constantly compromising your own #beliefs and #values just to avoid #conflict?

In our personal and professional relationships, it can be tempting to try and maintain #peace at any cost.

However, is that really the healthiest way to handle conflicts and #disagreements?

For much of my life I have had an intimate relationship with being a #peacekeeper (that is until I learned differently). This double edge sword gift was all that I witnessed from the women on both sides of my family. I learned what I saw.

Being a peacekeeper means trying to maintain harmony by avoiding or smoothing over conflicts. On the other hand, being a #peacemaker means actively working towards resolving conflicts and finding a #solution that works for all parties involved.
It may seem like a subtle difference, yet, it can have major consequences in our relationships. I will admit there have been times when I paid a heavy price in my #personal relationships by being a peacekeeper and not a peacemaker because I didn’t know the difference.

One key difference between peacekeeping and peacemaking is #intention. A peacekeeper may feel like they are helping by #avoiding #confrontation and keeping things #pleasant. Unfortunately, this may come with the price of #neglecting their own needs or #ignoring underlying issues that need to be addressed.

For example, imagine you are in a romantic relationship where your partner consistently makes hurtful comments about your appearance. As a peacekeeper, you might brush off their remarks or try to change the subject to avoid conflict.

On the other hand, as a peacemaker, you would address the issue head-on and work towards finding a solution that respects both parties’ needs (such as setting boundaries about #respectful #communication).

In our professional relationships, being a peacekeeper often means putting aside our own concerns in favor of #appeasing others or maintaining an image of #professionalism. However, this can lead us to #suppress our own ideas and concerns, leading to #resentment and #ineffective communication.

Peacemaking involves addressing conflicts directly and finding solutions that work for all parties involved. This not only leads to #better communication, it also fosters mutual #respect and #trust in the workplace.

So how can we move away from being peacekeepers and become peacemakers in our relationships?

It starts with recognizing when we are avoiding or smoothing over conflicts instead of addressing them head-on. It also involves practicing active listening skills, setting boundaries, and considering every party’s needs during conflict resolution.

While it may not always be easy, taking steps towards becoming a peacemaker can lead to more fulfilling personal and professional relationships. This is exactly what I am now doing in my relationships.

Through my own self-awareness and learning the differences between peacekeeper and peacemaker, I can consciously choose which role to take when I am faced with controversy or conflict in my relationships.

I do my best to show up as a peacemaker. However, there are times and situations where I may initially take the peacekeeper role with the goal to end as a peacemaker.

I am grateful for the gift of peacekeeping that the women in my family gave to me because the experiences opened the door for me to learn a different alternative to navigating conflict with grace and integrity.

Now ask yourself “Do I show up as a peacekeeper or peacemaker in my personal and professional relationships?

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Garrison, K. (2018). Blessed are the peacemakers (not the peacekeepers). Retrieved from 

Patrick, M. (2017). Are you a peacemaker or peacekeeper. Retrieved from

Reychler, L. (2017). Peacemaking, peacekeeping and peacebuilding. Retrieved from