Updated: Nov 19, 2019
We all experience conflict. It would be next to impossible to go through life without some type of conflict with someone. As well, conflict can be a source of tension, distress can end relationships.
What does conflict look like?
Conflict can be a disagreement or a differing view on how things should be. Conflicts can be about a disagreement between you and a colleague on how to do a job, who should pay for the food, how to raise kids, conflicts on religion, politics or best way to shovel.
But how do we address it?
Resolving can be a difficult process, as many people struggle with finding an amicable solution for both parties. Have you ever feared how the other person would respond? As well resolving conflict can be awkward and uncomfortable. In this post we discuss tips on how you can best be prepared to address your next conflict.
What is your role in the conflict?
Conflicts are rarely one sided. Spend time reflecting on how you contribute to the issue. What did you say? How did you say it? Write out what you believe led to the conflict. Spend time learning what you are responsible for. The key is to be prepared and understand as much as you can about your role in this.
Timing and location
Have you ever heard the phrased timing is everything? There may be instances when it is not a good time for conflict resolution. It can be difficult when you are exhausted, in a highly emotional state (angry, overwhelmed) or if there is not an appropriate amount of time devoted to working through the conflict. Also, think about the best place to discuss the issues. If you feel uncomfortable with them or fear of how they may react, it might be best to discuss in a public setting. Alternatively, some individuals may not be able to be honest and open and require a more private setting.
learn how to communicate
Communication is key if you ever want to resolve conflict. It’s not about being right, it’s about making the situation right between you and the other party. Listen with the intent to understand and learn from the other person. Find out how they saw the situation, what their needs are and how they see resolution. Listening is less about waiting for the opportune time to speak it’s about understanding the others perspective. Lastly, be respectful. When communicating avoid name calling, accusatory language, yelling and blaming. Very few conflicts have been resolved that way. Be mindful of your body language. Non-verbal communication speak louder than words ever can. If the other person sees how disconnected and disinterested you are with their perspective you aren’t going to get very far. An great video on ways to communicate effectively can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1vskiVDwl4
Brain storm ideas
Discuss together how best to resolve the situation. You both may have very differing opinions on this one. List the options whether you think they are helpful or not.
Negotiate and choose the best option(s)
Take what your list of possible solutions and discuss them together. Are there any that are amicable for both parties? Pick a solution and commit to it. If it doesn't work out you can always re-evaluate the agreement if needed. Conflicts aren’t always solved in one meeting. You may have to leave and come back at a different date if no decisions have been agreed upon. As well it might be a good idea to bring in a third party member. This can be a therapist, mediator, family member or friend. Its best to find someone who can be as objective as possible.
You tried your best and it didn't work. Now what?
There are times that no matter how hard you try, you cannot resolve the conflict. This can be extremely difficult. If you tried bringing someone in and still the issue cannot be resolved, here are a few other ideas. Though not ideal there are a few suggestions and some questions to ask yourself before deciding. Do you see them/talk to them every day. Do you work with them? Does the conflict prevent/interfere with having a relationship with the individual? If it's a colleague at work are you able to continue working with them? Or can arrangements be made where you do not work on the same project or you are able to limit contact. You may need to walk away from the situation for a time, this could mean limiting contact with the individual. Are you able to agree to disagree? Though you may have differing opinions on the conflict are you able to set it aside and maintain the relationship? You may have to reevaluate your relationship with the individual or If you work with this individual, you may have to bring in a supervisor to find out the best course of actions.
This is not an exhaustive list and it may not work for every person in every situation. Know that at the end of the day you have done all that you can to resolve the conflict. And at times that all that you can do. Because the only one that can protect your heart is you.