Conflict Happens: How To Deal With It

So what is conflict?  Conflict usually comes from differences that people have in their values, ideas, or wishes.  It isn’t always the reality of the situation, but the perception someone has made and if not addressed quickly it can build up.  A simple disagreement that triggers strong emotions can lead to a huge problem in the relationship.  Step one is to avoid going into a conflict situation already feeling threatened, it will only make it more likely for either party to shut down or blow up in a storm of emotions.  Conflict will always trigger strong emotions, but it is how you deal with them that will allow you to unlock the key to healthy conflict management. 

When done correctly, conflict is an opportunity for growth.  So what is healthy conflict management?  The ability to successfully resolve conflict depends on your ability to do the following things:

1. Stay calm and keep it simple.  The quickest way to work towards increasing the conflict is to not manage your stress.  By staying calm, you can accurately read and interpret verbal and nonverbal communication as well as maintain your own emotions.  Find the simplest and most effective way to communicate your opinion.

2. Establish the ground rules.  You have the right to be treated with respect and consideration.  Calmly establish this if it is not being met.

3. Control your emotions and behavior. When you’re in control of your emotions, you can communicate your needs without being perceived as threatening or punishing to others.

4. Pay attention.  The feelings being expressed are just as important as the words being spoken.  Try to recognize what is important to the other person.  Make sure you go deep enough into the conversation so that you can understand where they are coming from and what facts they are basing their position on.

5. Be aware of and respectful of differences. By avoiding disrespectful words and actions, the conflict can be resolved much faster.  Disrespectful words and actions only antagonize an equal response.

6. Don’t make it personal.  It is very easy to get caught up in the emotions of the situation; however once you start taking things personally it can create an even bigger problem.  Ensure that you have an understanding of your needs.

In the end everyone needs to feel understood and supported, but the ways in which these needs are met vary depending on the person.  The best way to do this is by practicing healthy conflict management and adapting to the needs of the situation.

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