How To Deal With Conflict

Posted by on Apr 12, 2013 in Work Relationships | 12 comments

Conflict happens regularly in life. Conflict often arises when minor disagreements go unnoticed or unaddressed and become larger issues. In other cases we experience unnecessary stress over perceived conflicts because we have been conditioned to focus on negative experiences.

How we deal with conflict has a significant impact on our health, happiness, and success in life. By overcoming emotional attachments and self-defeating attitudes we can manage conflict more easily.

No really, it’s true! At least, it’s true for me. I wouldn’t say managing conflict is easy but it can be easier than we make it. I don’t fear or avoid conflict the way I used to because I’m confident and compassionate in how I address conflict in my life today. As a result of my changed attitudes, my personal and professional relationships are greatly improved as I’ve learned to positively deal with conflict.

When it comes to conflict, here’s how I roll:

How To Deal With Conflict


Be kind

“Be kind. Everyone you meet is carrying a heavy burden.” ~Ian MacLaren

You can’t go wrong with kindness. Always be kind. Be kinder than you might feel.

It’s not all about you

Other people have a right to their thoughts and feelings, just as you have a right to yours. Respect the other person’s position- at the very least recognize they have their own life to consider.

Some of it IS about you

In some situations you may defer to someone else completely but this approach isn’t helpful or healthy, either. You have a right to express yourself and address your concerns- just not at the expense of others. Just be honest about your position.

Take responsibility for yourself

The rest of the world doesn’t exist to make you happy- that’s your job! If  you blame someone else for your experience you’re probably going to be unhappy most of your life.

Your happiness is up to you! In a conflict don’t expect someone else to make things right for you.

Don’t take responsibility for others

Just as your happiness is your responsibility, someone else’s happiness is their responsibility.

If you’ve done someone wrong by all means own up to it and let the other person take it from there. Make amends and let it go, even if they can’t let it go- you can’t make it right for them.

Respond, don’t react

Do you go on the defensive when facing conflict and react instead of responding? Don’t react- take a few moments to consider how you want to respond.

Remember, you don’t have to attend every argument you’re invited to and you don’t have to respond to every verbal jab.

Use emotion to inform, not define

Facing conflict is an emotionally-charged proposition. Use your emotions to inform your position and avoid allowing your feelings to determine your actions. Just because you feel anger doesn’t mean you have to act out in anger.

THINK

Is your response to the conflict Thoughtful, Honest, Inspiring, Necessary, and Kind? If not, it may be helpful to stop and re-THINK your position.

dealing with conflictImage by Pietro Izzo

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I love your comments! What is the hardest part of dealing with conflict for you? What other tips do you have to share?

12 Comments

  1. This is a great message. One of the important things that I got from the message is take responsibility. I think a lot of people refuse to take responsibiliity for what they contributed to a situation. I think a lot think that taking responsibility means accepting the blame and that is not the case. Looking for someone to blame never resolves anything.

    • Thank you for your awesome comment, Cynthia!

      You’re absolutely right- blame and responsibility are very different things. I’m only responsible for my actions, not outcomes. I’m not responsible for other people, either, and that’s where blame comes in. Accepting responsibility is important for peace, harmony, and growth- nothing else beyond that is mine.

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts! Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

  2. Hi Chrysta,

    Conflict is inevitable. It is a part of life. Even the best two people who love each other…there will conflict somehow. The only difference it makes is…some people know how to articulate their feelings. Know how to communicate their feelings without causing World War III. But majority of us do not have that type of training specially if you come from a dysfunctional home CONFLICT arises.

    And if you don’t know your erroneous zones, chances are you will have the same conflict over and over again. Until you address what is wrong with you. Sometimes it’s not about you. But sometimes it’s about you. If you know yourself, you will know others too. And so…knowing thyself FIRST is very helpful.

    Angela

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Angela!

      I love your suggestion to know yourself first and you’re so right on! Most of the time when we react emotionally to situations it’s precisely because we don’t know ourselves that we use the only data available to us- our feelings.

      In the heat of the moment we think because we’re angry it means we’ve been wronged. Sometimes what’s really happening is we misunderstood, maybe we didn’t communicate our needs, or sometimes the situation simply differed from our expectations. When we know ourselves we can see past the emotion and see conflict for what it really is.

      Thanks so much for stopping by! Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

  3. Hi Chyrsta, I love your blog and you have hit on some very good points here today int his post. The one that got my attention the most was Respond, don’t react! This is something I need to think about Yep Think before responding Great Point & one better don’t respond at all this is Great and I am going to use it.. Thanks for sharing Chery :)

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Chery!

      I love using THINK and responding vs reacting when I’m dealing with a difficult situation or conflict- it helps me adjust my attitudes so I can be open and loving instead of judgmental and resentful! I would absolutely rather be open and loving, wouldn’t you?

      Thanks for stopping by! Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

  4. Fantastic post, Chrysta! One of the things that I love the most is that it reminds us that we do play a part in conflicts but in the end the only person who’s thoughts and behaviors we can control are our own. When we let other people determine our experience – and happiness, we’ve lost the battle against ourselves.

    I had never seen THINK (Thoughtful, Honest, Inspiring, Necessary, and Kind) like this before. LOVE it! Thank you!

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Alli!

      Isn’t THINK a wonderful acronym? I love it and it has helped me respond more positively in many situations. The word that most often keeps me in check is “necessary”. Considering if something is necessary helps me focus on myself and my behavior instead of other people and their behavior. Something might be true but I don’t necessarily have to do anything with or about it if it doesn’t belong to me.

      Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

  5. Hi Chrysta,

    You are so right – conflicts are a part of life and we all face them sometimes or the other. What matters is how we deal or learn to cope with them :)

    The hardest part of dealing with conflicts for me was to get back at the person if we argued or had any disagreement. But as you mentioned, with time and patience, if you learn to be kind and compassionate – you can overcome this flaw too.

    I agree, sometimes it is about us and we need to be responsible for the way we behave too, if we are at fault. We need to own up to our mistakes and remember that not to react, but respond – which is something I learnt over time. This only affects our health and makes us feel better

    Thanks for sharing. Have a nice weekend :)

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Harleena!

      Ah yes, it is often tempting to want to get back at someone I feel has wronged me but I know, in the end, I won’t get much satisfaction at getting my revenge. People see the world through their own perspective, not mine, and chances are any attempts to get back at someone else wouldn’t change or enlighten them. If they were enlightened they probably wouldn’t have acted the way they did in the first place!

      And the same goes for me, too! I’m the only one that can change my attitudes and actions. :)

      Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

  6. Hi Chrysta

    I used to work at a place that was an emotional roller coaster. I have never seen so many miserable people in one place. The problem was a few managers that lacked such self-esteem that they controlled by bullying people.

    But when they started yelling at me, I spoke quietly and kept lowering my voice, so it was only them yelling. That method helps to diffuse the situation. Many people were physically getting ill by the way the manager acted. One guy finally had enough of the verbal abuse from the female boss that he quit after 10 years. He said he would sleep under a bridge before he would ever go to work for her again.

    Sometimes there is nothing anyone can do without owners and HR in the company that care. Conflict resides and all you do is walk away. Some that were laid off, changed their phone number so they wouldn’t be called back.

    Mary

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Mary!

      You bring up a great point, which is the difference between everyday conflict and abuse. When anyone in our lives is abusive there is little we can do to manage the situation and most of the time the best solution is to remove ourselves from the situation. I’m sorry to hear you experienced this firsthand.

      I love your suggestion to remain calm when someone is raising their voice! I would consider this a form of responding instead of reacting. You chose a mindful response, not allowing someone else’s poor behavior influence your behavior- kudos to you!

      Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

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