How To Resolve Conflict & Get On With Your Life
Conflict can be tricky. Being true to who we are is crucial for maintaining our health and the integrity of our relationships.“If you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it.” – W. Somerset Maugham
Addressing conflict can be scary and elicit feelings of doubt and insecurity. We may be afraid of damaging our relationships if we say what we truly think and how we feel. However, when we are truly present and honest, we provide an opportunity for our relationships to deepen and flourish. Knowing how and when to express ourselves creates a foundation of confidence on which we can stand.
Here are 10 tips that will help you resolve conflict, let go of resentments, and get on with
1. Be Direct. Speaking directly to the person involved, rather than complaining to friends may feel frightening, but is the first step in the process of clearing the air and resolving conflict. Being direct will also help you to feel empowered as you learn to assert yourself.
2. Timing. Plan to talk to the person at a mutually agreed upon time. Talking when tired, in a hurry, or in the midst of other activities will sabotage, rather than support, your conversation. Let the person know you have something on your mind you would like to talk about and decide on a convenient time. Let them know they’re not in any trouble, which will help to relieve any fear or apprehension. (Resolving conflict isn’t about blame – it’s about sharing your feelings and experience.)
3. Plan Ahead. Think about what you want to say and how you want to say it. Focus on the issue at hand and how it affects you. Stay away from blame and judgment. Practice in the mirror, or with your coach or therapist, if needed.
4. Be Conversational Rather Than Confrontational: Ridiculing, blaming or antagonizing severs communication and makes it difficult for the person involved to hear you. State the facts and how it the situation affects you. Speak slowing in short sentences, rather than telling a story. (See Step #5 for an example.)
5. Provide Information. Providing information, and how the situation affects you, will help prevent an argument and keep the conversation focused on the facts. For example, instead of saying “You have no consideration. You always slam the door in the morning and wake me up” say “When you slam the door on your way out of the house in the morning, it wakes me up and I have a hard time getting back to sleep.” See the difference?
6. Be Prepared To Listen. Take a breath and listen to the person’s response. Stay calm, should they feel defensive or be on hyper alert. (After all, they may not have the same tools as you do.)
7. Be An Active Listener. Paraphrase what you’re hearing them say. They will need time to talk as much as you do in order to resolve the problem. Give them space to air their thoughts and feelings. When you show that you’re listening, it will break down the barriers to talking and help them better hear you. Other strategies including noding your head up and down (not side to side!) to show you understand (not necessarily agree) with what they’re saying. Use phrases, such as Mh hmmm" and "I see. When the person is done talking and feels complete, let them know you appreciate their willingness to discuss the situation.
8. Talk It Through And Stay Focused On The Issue. Feel free to continue the conversation, should there be something more you would like to say when the person has finished talking. Like cleaning a wound, it’s important to address the situation in its entirety so it can be clearly resolved. This will help to prevent any resentment or anger from festering. Be mindful, however, that this isn’t about dumping issues from the past 10 years. Doing so would be overwhelming and the person would likely feel blamed and defensive. Stay focused on the current issue.
9. Collaborate. Once you have each had an opportunity to empty out your feelings and express yourself, collaborate on a mutually agreed upon solution. This can be a bit like brainstorming – throwing out ideas and options until you come up with a plan with which you’re both comfortable.
10. Test It Out. Agree to follow up at a designated time to see how the solution is working. Be opened to creating an alternate solution or tweaking the one you have.