Conflict in any situation is a very normal part of communication. Whether it’s within a friendship, relationship or at work, disagreements come up and sometimes we do not handle them in a way that is as effective as it could be. There can be many reasons for this, such as inability to control our anger. Allowing our ego to take over our thoughts or lack of skills to navigate a difference of opinion.
Conflict can be a very positive thing when handled in an emotionally mature and kind manner. We can see an others point of view and even change a once held view by seeing another side of any argument.
Having clear ways to navigate conflict can also help you to tackle disagreements head on, rather than running from them through fear of confrontation. Making blow ups and a build up of frustrations less likely. We have complied 11 ways to navigate conflict effectively and hopefully help you to deal with lifes niggles a little easier.
I Feel Statements
Using the words ‘l feel’ helps another see how you are viewing a potential situation, rather than stating how it is. It isn’t accusatory and shows a willingness to accept that it may not necessary be how something actually is. Examples such as:
- I feel you were being unfair in the way you said that.
- I feel hurt by your accusations.
- I feel angry in those situations.
- I feel unheard and that this was done deliberately
These kind of statements can help diffuse any potential escalation of conflict and providing both parties us this technique, makes it easier to find common ground and resolution.
Keep Your Tone Low
During conflict we can get into a cycle of both talking louder than the other person, until there is a crescendo of shouting. Keeping your tone lower than the other person can help to diffuse a situation. Naturally a person will try to match a tone, so if you keep yours low the other person will follow suit. This is particularly useful when someone is shouting. Keeping calm and low tones will signal to the other person their is no danger and reduce any stress hormones activated during the fight or flight process.
When we are in the midst of conflict or in a situation that we are finding uncomfortable our body language will often give us away. Trying to remain open postured again will signal to the other person we are happy to talk through a problem in a constructive manner. Uncrossing your arms and legs. having your limbs or shoulders lose, so there is no tension visible can send signals to both parties that there is no need to escalate the disagreement.
Listening is key to any situation. Allowing the other person to express their opinion freely without interruption, shows respect and a willingness to compromise and find a resolution to the conflict. Reflecting back on what the person has said is also a great way to acknowledge you have heard their point of view. An example of reflection would be:
- Can i just clarify what you have said?
- When you said this did you mean?
- I hear exactly what you are saying.
In the midst of conflict our breathing can shallow and send signals to our brain that we are under attack. We can counteract this with deep steady breathing to start to reduce any stress hormones that are coursing through our veins.
Work Towards Finding A Solution Rather Than Winning
Our egos often want us to win or be the slighted party. Try putting your ego to the side and work on finding a resolution rather than foisting blame or winning the argument. Remembering in any conflict their will be 3 points of view. Yours, theirs and how it actually is.
When a person is struggling to handle conflict well we often have to be the proactive party and acknowledge the difficulty the other person is experiencing in a non accusatory fashion. Reminding them that you are trying to find a compromise and gently leading them to good ways you could communicate easier.
Focus On The Facts
It can be really helpful to not get sidetracked by other issues that are bugging you. Keeping the original fact or disagreement at the front of your mind and find a resolution to this before moving on to another point. If at all.
Stand Side By Side Rather Than Face On
Standing head on with someone in conflict can exacerbate feelings of anger and activate the fight or flight reflex. Standing side by side or with your feet facing slightly to the side can reduce this effect and help the other person to feel you are a counterpart rather than adversary.
Put A Pin In It
Sometimes there is no way to find a resolution and in these casing its good to acknowledge you both are unable to continue amicably and suggesting perhaps coming back to the issue when you have both calmed down is the best course of action. Its show respect and can stop situations escalating further.
Check In After
After any conflict has occurred its always a good idea to check in after to make sure the other person is happy with how things went and if there is anything further than needs discussing. This is especially helpful if hurtful words have been expressed or a situation was extremely fractious.
Theses 11 methods can be used in their entirety, using a few or individually. They all exercise respect and control and a want to find resolution in a kind and peaceful manner. Conflict doesn’t have to be a big deal and when navigated in a loving manner can really empower people leaving them feeling positive and happy at the end of the experience.
Have you used these methods in the past? Let us know in the comments below your experiences.