Conflict is part of any relationship, it’s not possible to always agree with everything your friends and family say or do. Conflict is inevitable and for most of us it creates a significant sense of discomfort so we resort to negative expressions like avoiding, withdrawing or attacking those we love. If we handle this conflict positively, it can help us strengthen our relationships and help grow our understanding of ourselves and others.
Conflict happens when people disagree about their perceptions, desires, ideas, or values. These differences range from small misunderstandings to life-changing disagreements, but regardless of the content or severity of the disagreement, conflict often stirs up strong feelings.
The most common reaction to conflict is anger and hurt and it’s really easy to get stuck when expressing these strong emotions. Feeling angry is as healthy and as normal as feeling joy, happiness or sadness. Common understanding is that angry children are out of control, acting childishly, or being aggressive. How you choose to express and manage anger is fundamental to fighting fair when in conflict, even when you feel the other person is irrational or being completely unfair.
So how do you “fight fair” First you need to ask yourself some basic questions before launching into a conflict with someone.
What is really bothering me? Think beyond the conflict, think about what the issues are in the conflict and how this impacts on what you are hoping to achieve. Under anger you will almost always find pain, then regret, guilt and of course intent and love.
What are your goals? What are you trying or hoping to achieve, and really think about what you are willing to compromise on and how you both can win as an outcome.
What is the other person thinking? And by that we don’t mean to focus on the ‘utter nonsense’ of their point of view, ask yourself how they view the issues and what they could be feeling.
Now that you have a clear view of how you really feel and what your objectives in the conflict are, its time to sit down and talk! Clear and calm communication is key to keeping both parties from flaring into an argument. Take the time to really hear each other out – without interruptions. Keep the ‘you always do this or that…’ messages to the minimum – they are inflammatory and will get anyone’s back up.
Avoid clamming up and simply agreeing with everything your friend or partner is saying – two-way communication is really key in solving current conflicts and will go along way in avoiding large disagreements in the future. Be willing to compromise and make sure you offer solutions, inviting the partner-in-conflict to do the same. Avoid giving in completely – this will build resentment and it will add to future conflicts. And always avoid striking out or becoming violent.
Sometimes with all our best intentions and efforts, conflicts remain unresolved. Think about working with a mediator, someone who is impartial to the disagreement and will help keep both parties focused on working toward resolution.