Conflict is inevitable in any relationship. Over time, one person will misunderstand the other. Some conflicts are so small that overlooking the gaffe may be the best advice, but do not let the pain or anger over old misunderstandings pile up and become a full-blown argument because you failed to resolve the issue when it first happened. Oftentimes, then a seemingly small incident becomes a tipping point where making up for “the old and the new” aggravations become an intractable grudge. “When you are in deep conflict about something, sometimes the most trivial thing can tip the scales.” ~Ethel Merman
Conflict does not have to become a Hatfield and McCoy episode. You do not have to live with conflict, letting its flares ruin your relationships until the day you die. While conflict may not be avoidable all of the time, there are civil ways to resolve misunderstandings that preserve the relationship, your health and your integrity.
5 Steps to Conflict Resolution:
- Acknowledge there is a conflict. It’s not good to suppress the feeling that erupt after a presumed infraction, instead pay attention to the feeling rather than internalize the emotion. Go inside, get to your heart/feeling center and ask yourself why does this trigger a reaction in me? Check in with what you are feeling, acknowledge the feelings. Stay away from blame, anger, self-doubt or feelings of unworthiness (usually the result of unexpressed feelings).
“Difficulties are meant to rouse, not discourage. The human spirit is to grow strong by conflict.” ~William Ellery Channing
2. Identify the “real” conflict. There is a reason for the discord, identify why it exists. Once you have gone within yourself to self-check your feelings, it is time to get real. The next step is to hone in on what happened. Review the conversation or exchange-look for where things broke down and make an earnest attempt to identify the source of the conflict. It could be an integrity issue, a snub, a flaw, a mental illness. Whatever, the range of possibilities is wide. The point is to objectively pinpoint, as best as you can, what may be the real reason for the conflict.
“There are three principles in a man’s being and life, the principle of thought, the principle of speech, and the principle of action. The origin of all conflict between me and my fellow-men is that I do not say what I mean and I don’t do what I say. ” ~Martin Buber
3. It’s time to talk. Seek out the other person. Consult. Open up, share how you feel and then hear their point of view. This is where you seek to understand each other. Stay away from volatile, inflammatory accusations which escalate conflict. Talk in a hearing tone, speak with healing words, understand with an empathetic heart.
“Peace is not the absence of conflict but the presence of creative alternatives for responding to conflict – alternatives to passive or aggressive responses, alternatives to violence.” ~Dorothy Thompson
4. Work together to resolve the conflict. Keep a good attitude. Throw blame, heated recriminations out of the window. Stay in the now, rather than re-hash old wounds, and hear each other; find out what each person needs to resolve the issue. There are reasons why “vexed” feelings are there, tell the truth, share your feelings with a positive attitude, and then honestly do what is necessary to resolve the conflict.
“Whenever you’re in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is attitude.” ~William James
5. Take responsibility to maintain the solution. Own the outcome, do this for yourself. Take ownership of your feelings and release any lingering residuals that often accompany conflict. Take responsibility not only for your feelings but also take responsibility to honor the solution and then let the old conflict go. Sine die. It is done and over with.
“Conflict cannot survive without your participation.” ~Wayne Dyer
Conflict is solvable. Resolution is the agreement. Children instinctively know how to handle conflict, go to your inner child and model love.
- Resolving conflict (slideshare.net)
- Got Conflict? (ninaroesner.com)
- Helping Children Resolve Conflicts (education.com)
- About Conflict Resolution (ivythesis.typepad.com)
- How do you deal with conflict? (It’s the most important element in maintaining relationships) (emotionaleducation.wordpress.com)
- Managing Conflict (everydayhealth.com)