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How to Handle Conflict

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Conflict is an unavoidable part of life. No matter how hard you try to keep it at bay, it will always find a way to enter your life. Whether it is a full out yelling match with your kids or an issue that you have with your best friend that you keep to yourself, conflict is ever-present in our lives. 


Everyone handles conflict in their own way, some more effectively than others. Some people take on an accommodating or passive conflict style in which they just let the other person get their way. Others take on a more competing or aggressive conflict style in which they do everything they can to make the conflict ends in their favor. Some people try to collaborate to make sure everyone wins once the conflict is resolved.


But what is the best way to deal with conflict when it arises? Here are four tips to help you deal with your conflicts as smoothly as possible.


Identify Needs and Expectations—By identifying your needs and expectations as well as the other person’s needs and expectations, you can better understand the reason behind the conflict. Conflicts tend to arise when people are not getting their needs and expectations met. By figuring out what needs and expectations are not being met, you can start working towards a resolution that works for everyone involved.

Identify Behaviors, Not Personality Traits—Instead of saying things such as “You are so inconsiderate,” try pointing out specific instances that caused you to get upset such as “It upset me when you were playing your music loudly when I was trying to study for my final.” By attacking the other person’s character and accusing them of negative personality traits, you will put them on the defensive. By identifying specific behaviors, you will have an easier time working together to come up with a solution to resolve the conflict.

Listen—Conflict is a two way street. If you are having a problem with someone, take the time to listen to their side of the story and what they have to say. By listening to what the other person has to say, you will have a better chance of coming up with a solution that meets both your needs AND the other persons needs.

Be Reasonable—If your roommate plays her music loudly 24/7, don’t try to get her to never play her music at all. Instead, come up with a reasonable solution to the conflict, such as having her turn her music off when you are trying to study and sleep. By coming up with realistic, reasonable solutions to the conflict, it is more likely to get resolved.


By implementing these four tips, your conflicts should go much smoother and you should be able to come up with a solution that works for all parties involved. Conflict can be an unwanted hassle, but it can have positive results if it is managed effectively.
 

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