Conflict is nearly impossible to avoid when you have relationships with others. To some, conflict is part of their everyday routine, while for others it can dramatically interfere with their lifestyle. While conflict has a negative connotation, it really could have a positive effect on relationships – if those involved approach the situation in a healthy manner. When it comes to resolving conflict in your relationships, there are 8 keys to success!
· Key #1: Identify the Issue
· Key #2: Put yourself in their Shoes
· Key #3: Discuss the Problem, not the People
· Key #4: Use “I” Statements
· Key #5: Listen for Understanding
· Key #6: Touch on the Hard & Awkward Subjects
· Key #7: Talk about Solutions
· Key #8: Keep the Conversation Going
Key #1: Identify the Issue
Before jumping into a conversation with someone, make sure you take some time to identify and reflect on the issue at hand. Depending on the situation, it is likely that your emotions are involved, or time has passed, both of which make focusing on the true issue even more difficult. By taking the time to drill down to the main issue you will be better prepared to enter the conversation with resolution in mind instead of conflict.
Key #2: Put yourself in their Shoes
Conflict occurs when at least two different people do not agree about something. Although the easiest thing to do in those moments is focus on how you feel and seek affirmation for your feelings, the healthier way to approach the issue is through empathy. By doing your best to empathize with the other people involved, you will be in a more approachable mindset which fosters an environment for discussion and healing.
Key #3: Discuss the Problem, not the People
Maybe the last time you spoke to this person they really annoyed you. Perhaps the other person involved seems to be lazy and uninterested in all your efforts to resolve the situation. During your discussion, be sure to focus on the problem you identified in step 1, rather than picking apart the persons behavior. While the other party may be able to listen and understand your point of view if you focus on the issue, they will be less inclined to resolve anything if you are picking their character apart.
Key #4: Use “I” Statements
Now that you know to focus on the problem at hand instead of the people, it is important you know how to discuss the problem. Instead of talking about how the person made you feel, what they did, what they could have done better, etc. try your best to speak in “I” statements. For example, instead of saying “you hurt my feelings when you didn’t answer my call” you could say “I felt unimportant when you didn’t answer my call the other day”. By making this simple shift in wording, you are sharing how you felt in a more innocent way rather than accusatory.
Key #5: Listen for Understanding
After you have taken the time to share your feelings using “I” statements, you will likely need to listen to the other persons statements and feelings as well. During the time the other person is speaking, it is critical that you listen to what is being said with the goal of understanding their perspective and feelings, instead of defending yourself or planning your next statement. By listening for understanding, you are taking a proactive approach towards self-reflection and empathizing which are positive traits for a healthy relationship.
Key #6: Touch on the Hard & Awkward Topics
While it may seem easy to glance over the topics that really made you upset because they are a little awkward or touchy, it is never a good idea to omit them. Instead, do your best to talk to those situations directly and bluntly. By doing this, you will be able to heal from them, instead of pushing them down until the next conflict arises. After all, temporary discomfort is better than long term emotional pain.
Key #7: Talk about Solutions
Okay, so you have both taken some time to talk about your feelings and the problem, now what? Well, meditation and conflict resolution is all about finding a solution. Make sure you are prepared to talk about solutions for the issues that have been discussed. Talk about what you are willing and not willing to accept, and be sure to set some emotional boundaries as well. By ending the conversation with a discussion of solutions everyone will leave feeling productive, rather than perceiving the discussion as a bickering session.
Key #8: Keep the Conversation Going
Believe it or not, conflict in relationships is like a carousel. Although one issue may have been resolved today, a new one may arise sometime soon. To better prepare yourself for future conflict, be sure to keep the conversations going after the mediation meeting. By doing this, you are reinforcing positive discussions and setting healthy boundaries which both lead to sustainable relationships.
Although conflict in relationships is impossible to avoid, finding resolutions does not have to be difficult or painful. Instead of entering conversations with words fueled with emotions, try your best to focus on the issue at hand. Although it can be easy to use your time to complain and bicker, do your best to speak in “I” statements and offer some solutions. While the relationship may not come out of the conversation entirely healed, being able to have a tough conversation with a loved one and understand their point of a view a bit more are both small wins. Over time, these 8 Keys will become easier to implement into your daily life and should help you avoid and navigate conflict.
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