Whenever you’re exchanging ideas with other people, you’re bound to run into some conflict. Being in conflict with someone doesn’t automatically mean that you’re in a fight.
Conflict isn’t necessarily negative. It may just be brought on by an incompatibility of ideas or a simple disagreement – natural parts of debate and discourse across all human relationships. Conflict is essential to the growth and exchange of ideas and relationships.
Be that as it may, conflict can also very easily turn into something ugly. If either one side ends up harboring resentment over the conflict and/or how it was resolved, that resentment could adversely affect the relationship in the future. Whether it’s with your spouse, child, boss, employee, co-worker, friend, or anyone that you have a long-term relationship with, you need to find a way to resolve things as amicably and as fairly as possible.
#1 Do Not Let Emotions Consume You
Anger is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it’s a good way to bring to light pent-up issues, ideas, and counterpoints that have been festering and gaining pressure inside people’s minds. Anger forces confrontation, and when handled correctly, confrontation can result in peaceful resolution. On the other hand, when it comes to conflict resolution between two people, this is the only thing that anger is good for.
If anger is allowed to dominate the rest of the discourse, then emotions can only escalate further, leaving little to zero room for an actual solution that’s amicable to both parties. The same is true for intense sadness, guilt, jealousy, hate, and whatever other emotion that forces pent-up interpersonal issues to the surface. After its job is done, toss it aside. Do not fall into a downward emotional spiral with whoever it is you’re conflicted with.
Deescalate the situation. Excuse yourself and think: is getting really upset over all this worth your time and energy? What do you have to gain from getting and staying angry? Walk away from the conflict, relax and give yourself time to think, and come back to the fray with a calm mindset. Once you realize that intense emotions can only prevent either party from getting what they want, it’s easier to tackle the conflict objectively.
#2 Empathize With the Other Party
Try your hardest to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and understand that their feelings and opinions (no matter how much you disagree with them) are valid. If you can’t see and understand where the other person or party is coming from, there’s no way for you to arrive at an amicable resolution.
So if you feel like there’s something about the other person (or their argument) that you don’t fully understand, ask them about it. Read their body language. Be sensitive to their needs and ask them to be sensitive to yours. Going into a conflict with this mindset is a good way to de-escalate high emotions and find a common ground between both parties.
#3 Stuck? Explore Other Motives and Concerns
When the conflicting parties are stuck in a stalemate in which neither is willing to bulge or change their behavior, it’s time to change your approach. Try to find other concerns and reasons that motivate the other person’s actions, and at the same time, be open to talking about your own possible underlying concerns as you coax them out of the other person.
By being more transparent with needs that may be related to the conflict, the two parties can better adjust their strategy towards an actual resolution.