Conflict is a normal part of life. It’s unpleasant and unwanted, but common nonetheless. It can arise between individuals, as well as within and between groups.
Conflicts are generally a result of our differences. They happen when individuals or groups that are in the same situation perceive things differently because of a different set of settings like culture, background, disposition or outlook.
Conflicts can be destructive if not resolved. But there is good news – conflicts can be reduced, avoided and even eliminated!
Below, in fact, are 6 tips to help with this.
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1. Distinguish facts from fiction
When we have disagreements with someone, sometimes we hear this being uttered, “you make me feel this way.”
The truth is, no one has the power to make you feel a certain way, apart from you.
Let’s use this example as a bit of an extreme case to demonstrate this point: say for instance Jenny has to meet a deadline tomorrow, hence she is busy at work. She probably hasn’t returned Jack’s call or replied to his text messages. But Jack is getting anxious and worried about it. Then he felt being ignored and eventually concluded that it’s likely she is having an affair. But it was, in fact, all in Jack’s head – the reality was, Jenny was just busy!
That is definitely an exaggerated fictional example, but that is what often happens, as we are prone to making assumptions and jumping to conclusions.
Before we get worked up over something (which may be nothing), it is important not to jump to conclusions right away. Analyse the situation first. Be aware of the feelings that are evoked, and take ownership of your own feelings. The other person didn’t make you feel the way that you did. They just did what they did and you chose to feel the way you did/do.
Find out what really happened before coming to a conclusion.
2. Distinguish motive and emotion
We sometimes tend to assume that we know what other people’s motives are, that we know what they are intending to ‘do to us’.
The truth is unless you can read minds it is nearly impossible for you to actually ‘know’ what someone else is thinking. We can only know for a fact our own emotions towards the behaviors of other people (even that can get confusing sometimes, thus the importance of self-awareness and mindfulness).
You also have to recognize that other person probably didn’t mean to disrespect, hurt, ignore or control you – we often don’t know how our actions and words are being perceived by others, and vice versa.
So the next time you feel angry or frustrated about something someone did or said, don’t automatically assume they did it to hurt you or disrespect you. More often than not, people don’t mean to cause offense.
3. Be solution-focused
Consider this scenario: You are in a restaurant, and the waiter served you a bowl of cold soup. Things escalated quickly and you demand to talk to the manager to complain about the cold soup. But when you do talk to the manager, your complaint doesn’t get addressed in the way you believe it should have been. You feel agitated and annoyed because the manager ‘ignored’ you, as he failed to come up with a ‘good way’ to you to address your complaint. You are stressed, the waited is stressed, everyone is stressed.
In the above scenario, there was another way to deal with it – rather than expecting a ‘good’ solution, it would have been better if you just requested for another bowl of soup (make sure to mention you want it hot.) That would have caused a lot less stress and hassle for you, and everyone involved.
So the next time you have an issue like that, use a request to deal with the complaints. This way you don’t just tell them what is wrong, but also give them a way to fix it. When you catch yourself about to complain, stop yourself and consider whether there is something that you can request. But remember to put the request to someone who has the power to grant it. Otherwise, your problems might not get resolved.
4. Be honest about your feelings
If you are going to open up about something sensitive to someone, open the dialog with, “I’d like to say something, but I’m afraid that I’ll… or you’ll…”
Showing your vulnerability and being honest about it will make the other person more receptive to you and what you’re going to say, and massively reduce any possibility of conflict (especially if it is a sensitive issue).
Aside from that, that introduction will make conveying the sensitive message a lot easier.
5. Take responsibility for your part
Have you ever thought that you may have something to do with the issue at hand? You might be a contributor or have influence over the existence of a problem. If that’s the case, you should figure out what actions to take to solve your own role.
It takes two to tango…
Review your role in the conflict. That can go a long way in dealing with the conflict.
6. Learn to forgive
If someone has ever wronged you, forgive them in your heart.
Forgiveness is more for you than the other person. Forgiving the other person may do nothing for them, but can do a lot for you. Because forgiving these people will release you from the ever-present agony and frustration.
Give yourself the gift of forgiveness.
To recap, here are six ways you can reduce and even eradicate conflict:
- Find out what really happened before jumping to a conclusion.
- Don’t automatically assume the other person meant to hurt or disrespect you.
- When something goes wrong don’t just tell people what is wrong, also give them a way to fix it.
- Be honest about how you feel.
- Take responsibility for yourself.
Conflict is a part of life, but it can be managed, reduced, even eliminated
Conflicts, unfortunately, do happen, but they can be dealt with. You can actually get better at managing conflict, and implementing the above tips consistently can even help you to eradicate conflict!
Conflicts are unpleasant and unwanted, but they can be reduced, even eliminated.
What are your thoughts on dealing with conflict – how do you do it? Do you have any conflict management tips to share?
Post your suggestions and tips in the comments below.
If you want to learn more about conflict management, check out our guide on anger management – that will be a great life skill to master, and will help significantly reduce conflict in your life as a lot of that is caused by anger. Our articles on happiness can also help.
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