Conflict is an inevitable part of human interactions, but it doesn’t have to mean the end of a relationship.
Conflict is more than just a disagreement, and will continue to fester if ignored. Situations of conflict are a perceived threat to our wellbeing and survival, which is why they stick around if they aren’t resolved.
Recognising how and why conflict between people might exist, helps you better prepare for it in everyday life.
Here are some ways you can manage conflict when it arises:
1. Pause for effect: Instead of saying the first thing that pops into your head when you’re angry, pause and take a deep breath. Sometimes it is better to walk away at this point, and to regroup once both parties have had a chance to calm down and collect their thoughts.
2. Have an open mind: If conflict arises, do your best to listen to both sides of the argument. Try not to be too defensive, as this can often make things worse.
3. Focus on behaviour: Instead of blaming or labelling a person, try to focus on the issue you have with a behaviour, action or idea.
4. Try a different angle: Thinking about a situation from someone else’s point of view will help you understand where that person is coming from and what might be driving their argument. In the end you may need to agree to disagree, but it helps to acknowledge another person’s beliefs, and different experiences.
5. Control what you can: Focus on the things that you can control, like your own behaviour and reactive stance. Take responsibility for how your own reactions may have played a part in the conflict.
6. Join forces: Although you have had a disagreement, work with the person to come up with solutions to the conflict that leave both parties happy.