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. 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.
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.
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Chances are you’re friendly with a co-worker or family member with opposing political views. During an election year people are particularly prone to share their political views- especially on Facebook. If you’re friends with co-workers and family on Facebook, you’ve likely figured out their opinions on any number of political issues by now.
Many people share snappy one-liners and scathing retorts on their Facebook page that they wouldn’t say in a face-to-face conversation. Boasting political beliefs on Facebook can lead to stereotyping, heated arguments, and hate speech. Most people are more circumspect in face-to-face conversations, but political opinions still come up in conversation.
So what happens when you have to interact in person with someone who’s political views are very different than your own? What if you find that person’s opinions offensive or reprehensible? How do you look past the rhetoric to build a respectful and productive work or family relationship?
Here are some ideas to promote positive relationships with people who have opposing political opinions.
Don’t take the bait
Political issues are complex but all too often complicated issues are stripped down to catchy sound-bites intended to get a reaction- and get a reaction it does. Recognize that most political views shared on Facebook are intended to get a rise out of you.
When you are thoughtful in your response you control your emotional well-being. Remember, you don’t have to attend every argument you’re invited to.
Don’t take it personally
Many political policies affect your day-to-day life but when someone shares a political opinion they are not intentionally trying to harm you. Hot button political issues are bigger than any individual.
Own your beliefs and opinions and let other people own theirs. While personal activism is important, you don’t have to challenge the beliefs of your co-workers and family. Stop taking it personally!
See the whole person
When someone shares an opposing viewpoint your opinion of that person may change drastically, but focusing on someone’s politics can make work and family relationships difficult.
Adjust your perspective to see the whole person. Their opinions are just part of who they are- no one is defined by their political views alone. No matter what their politics they are likely a good person with many awesome qualities! So are you! I challenge you to see the awesome in each other.
Focus on shared goals
Most of the time an individual’s politics are unrelated to your relationship with them. Stop putting politics before your relationships by focusing on shared goals. Find a common goal and work together to accomplish the task.
Agree to disagree
Everyone has their own opinion influenced by personal experiences, family, friends, education, culture, social status and more. Accept that someone else has been influenced by different factors than the ones that influenced you. No one is right or wrong in politics- people have different perspectives on complex issues. Foster respectful and productive relationships by simply agreeing to disagree.
Image courtesy of Abhi Ryan
I love your comments! Have you ever let politics affect your relationships? What other ways do you look past politics to create positive relationships?Join the Conversation
Annoying coworkers- everything they do is irritating. Annoying coworkers can be recognized by their laziness, over-sharing, obnoxious habits, poor communication, lack of hygiene- you name it! I’ve been there, you’ve been there, we’ve all been there.
What if you annoying coworkers aren’t really all that annoying? Not true, you may insist as you prepare a list of your coworkers annoying traits. Well I have news for you- your coworkers are not as annoying as you think they are.
I’m not talking about difficult people here- those people that create a toxic and hostile work environment. What I am talking about are those people that just irritate you, even though they’re really decent human beings, whether or not you like them.
What I experience at work and in life is largely a result of my attitudes and perceptions. What I’m trying to say is it’s not them, it’s you. The good news is there’s really nothing you can do about a truly annoying coworker but there is a lot you can do about your experience!
If you’re still with me, perhaps you’re wondering if this is the point that I offer some ideas to turn your experience from negative to positive. This most definitely is that point so do please read on for some tips to make your annoying coworkers seem downright likeable!
How to change your attitude from annoyed to enjoyed!
Try becoming friends with your annoying coworker. You may find those annoying habits seem less annoying when you really get to know someone.
Getting to know the whole person, instead of a laundry list of habits, can help you appreciate the great qualities they possess. It’s much easier to overlook the not-so-good when you see the good, too. Perspective is good for your mental health!
A great way to connect with another person is to compliment them. Find a stellar quality in the other person and tell them how much you admire that quality. In my experience it’s impossible to feel annoyed and appreciative at the same time!
The modern workplace is a melting pot. Differences in culture, values, status, and personality can lead to stress and conflict.
When you don’t see eye-to-eye with someone, use this opportunity to accept others as they are. There’s more than one way to get the job done and your way is not the right way. Everyone is different and that’s okay.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if you want to be happy- stop complaining. Sure, you may have legitimate complaints, don’t we all, but repeating your complaints over and over again only makes you unreasonable and unhappy!
If you stop complaining about your so-called annoying coworkers you may soon find you don’t actually find them all that annoying after all.
Be your best
The best way to take your mind off another person’s annoying behavior is to focus on your own behavior. What’s on your to-do list? What are your goals?
Put your mind to work on your work. You’ll enjoy the satisfaction that comes from a job well done! You may even show your awesome talents leading to a raise or promotion!
Take care of you!
I am far more likely to be irritable when I’m hungry, angry, lonely, or tired.
If you’re not taking care of you it’s a good bet you’re going to be more easily annoyed. If you find yourself feeling annoyed, do something nice for you.
What you experience is up to you
It’s a basic human truth that the people around us are bound to annoy us from time-to-time, but if you want a positive experience at work it’s important to adjust your perceptions and attitudes.
The more you focus your problems and stress on those things outside you (other people, places, and things), the more likely you are to be annoyed, stressed and unhappy. If you blame other people for your experience then what you experience is at the mercy of your coworkers.
However, when you take responsibility for what you experience you can have more great days, and realize your coworkers really aren’t that annoying. Or at least they no longer annoy you!
I love your comments! Are your coworkers as annoying as you think they are? What other ways do you adjust your experience for the better?Join the Conversation
Working with a difficult person can make you miserable! No one wants to be miserable at work- at least I don’t- and if you’re reading this article I imagine you don’t want to be miserable, either.
Years ago I found myself miserable at work. I worked with the most difficult person I’ve ever met, and what was formerly a job and company I loved. I was so worn out and frustrated that I wanted to quit my job on the spot. I muddled through several horrible months at work and until the difficult co-worker quit before I did.
After she quit, I had time to reflect on the experience and my part in the problem; and it truly had become my problem. Although I wasn’t the person causing the problem, I was working with it every day.
I learned a lot from my experience and I continue to carefully observe difficult people, and notice when others manage themselves effectively in an unmanageable situation.
So how to do you deal with that annoying, passive-aggressive, whiny, hostile, negative or martyred colleague?
In my experience there is very little you can do to effect change in other people; you can only hope to manage your own experience, thoughts and actions. Ultimately managing your relationship with difficult people is up to you.
Respond, don’t react.
When you react you are accepting responsibility for someone else’s thoughts, behavior or actions. Once you have taken ownership of another’s judgements, you may carry that with you for days, months or even years.
Take a deep breath, and allow yourself a moment to respond. When you respond, you take ownership of your own thoughts, behavior and actions. You reply from your perspective and experience. It is not necessary to agree to deny someone else’s position, instead you share your own.
Respond with compassion.
Most people are on their worst behavior when they are suffering. Perhaps they are dealing with a loss in their personal lives, or they are struggling with an unseen illness. Maybe they lack appropriate social skills and are stumbling through their life as best they can.
Being able to view a difficult person with kindness will help balance your perspective. In the heat of the moment, it is easy to see others only for their worst qualities, and the situation may appear worse than it is.
Responding to difficult people with compassion will benefit you as much as it benefits the other person. Think of one good quality in that person and hold onto that thought when you respond.
You don’t have to accept unacceptable behavior, and you can still choose to treat others as you’d want to be treated on your worst day, and your best.
You may be able to avoid future conflict with difficult people practicing clear communication. Use clarifying questions to ask for specifics or examples.
A useful communication tool is to repeat what the other person said to ensure you understood. Ask follow up questions. Agree on next steps, and put it in writing.
Being clear and documenting your communication with a difficult person can also help you maintain your credibility if you are dealing with a manipulative and dishonest colleague.
Choose not to engage.
You do not have to attend every argument you are invited to. You can politely decline the invitation to engage in gossip, argument, and complaints.
You have the option to remove yourself from a heated discussion. Instead, choose to excuse yourself if a difficult person tries to engage you in an argument, and come back the discussion later. If the difficult person doesn’t seem able to have a calm, professional discussion, you may request to discuss the issue at hand with your supervisor or HR representative present.
You can choose not to participate in gossip and complaints by saying, “I’m not comfortable discussing this.”, or “That situation sounds really difficult. I hope you work it out.” and opting not to engage further.
Take care of you.
Dealing with difficult people is stressful, and in times of stress it is essential to attend to your mental, emotional and physical health.
Take a deep breath, go for a walk, get a good night’s sleep, take breaks, eat delicious and nutritious food.
HALT when you notice you are hungry, angry, lonely, tired, or hurt, anxious, lost or tense. Make taking care of you a priority!
Effectively managing yourself and your behavior when dealing with difficult people can improve your quality of life in a truly difficult situation. By applying these tools you may also maintain your reputation and credibility, and build valuable relationship and leadership skills.
I love your comments! Have you ever worked with a difficult person? How did you manage the relationship? What was the result?Join the Conversation
Dealing with conflict can be one of the most difficult challenges in our careers. When we perceive someone else’s behavior as annoying, disrespectful or harmful, it’s difficult to address the issue constructively.
We might make a joke out of the situation, hoping the other person will catch on and change their behavior. This tactic sound less confrontational than directly addressing conflict, however in my experience it has never lead to a solution. Other people either don’t realize we are upset, or are left wondering what, exactly, is upsetting us.
Another school of thought is to politely offer suggestions for change or improvement. Again, this method sounds non-confrontational and even helpful, but it rarely comes across as such to someone else. Many people do not appreciate being corrected and even “helpful” suggestions are likely result in defensiveness.
So what types of conflict resolution lead to resolution? The following techniques have worked for me in addressing and resolving conflict in the workplace:
Take ownership of your emotions. You may want to blame the effects of conflict on someone else’s behavior, but at the end of the day you are the one who has to live with how you are affected by the situation. Acknowledge your reaction and recognize that your reaction belongs to you. Other people affect our lives, and we ultimately decide how to manage our response.
Put the situation in perspective. Ask yourself, “how important is it?” Will you remember the current conflict six months from now? Recognizing that we all have faults, is the conflict serious enough to warrant a confrontation? What would happen if you didn’t address the situation? What is the best and worst case scenario if you did? Decide what, if anything, you have to loose or gain.
THINK Are your words and actions Thoughtful, Honest, Intelligent, Necessary and Kind? Take a moment to THINK about your participation in the conflict. When I THINK through a problem and can answer “yes” to all five qualifiers I know I’m treating myself and others with respect.
Ask for assistance. If you’ve determined you need to confront another person, try asking for their help instead of expressing your frustrations over their behavior. Most people are much more likely to help when asked and less likely to change when accused or demanded. You might say something like, “Thanks for meeting with me. It’s important to me that we have a positive working relationship and I hope you agree. I’ve been having a difficult time lately and think you may be able to help me. Would you be willing to do that?”
Brainstorm solutions. Instead of insisting on your ideal resolution, invite the other person to offer their ideas to solve the problem. Be open to someone else’s ideas and share your own. Together you have the opportunity to discover a solution that works for everyone and allows all parties to feel engaged and respected.
Express gratitude. Sincerely thank your co-worker for their time and consideration in addressing the conflict. Recognize that they are giving of themselves to you and you can give them the gift of gratitude.Join the Conversation