How to Handle Conflict
Updated: May 18, 2022
Healthy relationships are full of conflict. Two people can't expect to agree on everything all of the time. It’s important not to fear or try avoiding any discussions that might generate a disagreement. Learning how to resolve conflicts harmoniously before they grow into larger problems down the line can be a helpful tool to obtain. Some relationships can even strengthen after conflict resolution.
When people in your life have different opinions or value systems, you may have a dispute at some point. We all want to feel heard, but when you are dealing with different perspectives it can be a little difficult. Practicing respect and consideration for each person in the conversation, including yourself is a wonderful place to start. Let’s review a few techniques to help diffuse a heated situation and open mutual beneficial dialogue.
Let them talk first. Take a few moments to calm down while letting them vent. The more they talk about their feelings without interruption or judgment from others around them, can allow for some much-needed release before moving on in the conversation. Just because they share first, does not mean you necessarily agree with what they are saying. Obviously, it is important for them, and they need to share so extend them a little respect and listen while composing yourself before it is your turn to speak. Pay attention and you will hear what is important to them, in hopes to further understand them.
Ask clarifying questions. Learn all that you can about why they are upset before responding. If they didn’t already cover the information, some questions you can ask are “Why is this upsetting you?” or “What can we do together to move forward?” Sometimes the answers can reveal more details. Also, asking questions demonstrates you want to resolve the issue at hand.
Respond calmly with organized thoughts. This is easier said than done, especially if they just vented for a while about something with which you don’t agree. However, one thing you can agree on is there is conflict. Knowing both parties are willing to come to some kind of mutual understanding of one another. Acknowledge you have heard them and ask for the same consideration to share how you feel without interruption. Once you have finished, immediately ask what do you think we can do together to resolve this? Trying to resolve it together instead of just one person deciding will help both parties feel involved.
Having different points of views and perspectives with those in your life is healthy. No one wants to be surrounded with “yes I agree” people all the time. Respecting each other’s feelings and having consideration for them as people is important for successful relationships; personally, professionally, and in society. Listening to each other and working together to find a resolution can help strengthen your relationship and stop unnecessary drama.
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