Even the healthiest relationships, at times, experience conflict. Conflict can be stressful, but if effectively resolved, conflict can build a stronger friendship.
Understand the Problem. Make sure you understand the other person â ask their viewpoint. Use active listening skills. Before you reply, repeat what the other person said as a way of clarifying potential areas of misunderstanding and demonstrating respect. When you reply, emphasize the fact that you are presenting your perception of the problem.
As you respond, try to avoid what are called "Blaming" attacks. This occurs when we use the second person pronoun 'you' and attach blame to an action. For example, "We would not have been late had 'you' not taken so long getting back here." Avoid using language that may be perceived as provocative or insulting.
Agree on the problem. Keep focused on the here and now. Slipping into conflict over past issues can derail the discussion. Sometimes we do not recall the details of past conflicts, nor do we have any control over changing the past. Stay in the present.
Only one problem at a time can be solved. Avoid gunnysacking, that is the practice of unloading several problems at once. This only serves to confuse the parties and often results in limited, if any, closure on the central concerns;
Brainstorm Possible Solutions. If everyone is going to feel satisfied with the resolution, it will help if everyone has had fair input in generating solutions. Brainstorm possible solutions, and be open to all ideas, including ones you never considered before.
Negotiate a Solution. By this stage, the conflict may be resolved: Both sides may better understand the position of the other, and a mutually satisfactory solution may be clear to all.
Here are some suggestions:
Try to avoid raising your voice as this may be interpreted as intimidating or elicit similar defensive behavior on the part of the other person
Look for several solutions. Look outside the lines and see if the two of you can think of multiple ways of solving the problem. Be creative.
Keep a sense of humor. Nurture your creativity by using your humor.
Take into consideration the time and place of the conflict. Perhaps where you are physically and emotionally merits a change in time and location before the discussion continues. It is also okay to contract for time limits on the discussion for any given session.
Examine your own motives for the conflict. Are their attitudes or beliefs that may be temporarily suspended to better understand the otherâs perspective?
What If We Canât Get Anywhere?
Some problems are not easily resolved. As individuals, we can only control our own actions. We can not make others behave a certain way. Everyone has some form of undesirable situations in life. But it is up to the individual to determine how he or she reacts to those problems. If we are upset about our problems, we have two problems -- the problem, and our upset about it. Most people want to have the fewest number of problems possible. So when we learn how to more calmly accept a problem, not only do we feel better, but we usually put ourselves in a better position to make use of our intelligence, knowledge, energy, and resources to resolve the problem.