Creative Ways To Handle Conflict!

conflict blog
For many just the word conflict makes them nervous. Conflict conjures up negative meaning for countless people. There tends to be the conflict avoider and the conflict seeker/creator and then those that lay somewhere in-between. Learning how to handle conflict in a respectful way to self and others is the key. If we are going to be in relationships, then we are going to have conflict. The following are a few quick tips on handling conflict:

Concern
Open-Minded
Non-defensive
Fairness
Listening
Introspective
Consideration
Thankful

When someone has the courage to express something to you that seems like a conflict it is imperative to show sincere concern. Showing sincere concern is displayed in many ways, however, your non-verbal communication will tell the person a lot about your level of sincere concern. Keeping good eye-contact and sending non-verbal cues that show concern is a good start. Positive non-verbal cues are open-body posture, nodding as you listen, concerned facial expressions, etc.

Being opened-minded during a conflict with another person is certainly a challenge. It is not always the easiest things to do especially if it is a topic that you are both personally invested in your viewpoints. Being open-minded to the fact the maybe the person’s viewpoint has some merit takes training in being intentional in the moment. It is about acknowledging that this person may have something I need to hear and in fact may offer you a different perspective if you can stay open to that possibility.

I will say that being non-defensive is the best way to handle conflict. Often you don’t even realize you are being defensive because it such an instinctual reaction. This actually is true. It is instinctual to be defensive; yet, it is harmful to all our relationships. As a human you have the ability to learn to be non-defensive. However, this requires significant attentiveness to your reactions and choosing less defensive ones. In the beginning it feels like a lot of work, but as you practice non-defensive responses they become easier.

Fairness during a conflictual situation can also be a challenge. Fairness makes me think of the win-win outcome that is often referenced. When you approach a conflict with the intention of both your needs and the others being important and valid there is a greater hope that a win-win outcome will occur. If you are the type that tends to have to be right then you usually seek a win-lose outcome with your way winning. Just as harmful is the lose-win when you give into another without expressing yourself fully for the sake of stopping the conflict.

Being a good listener during conflict is a rare and special craft. In my experience most people are not too good at listening. Listening is about staying with the sender not shifting to your own thoughts and reactions. Good listening is making sure you understand and have heard the other person. Reflecting back or mirroring to them what you heard them say is priceless. This has nothing to do with agreeing; it is about making sure you get it from their perspective.

Being introspective can be very helpful during conflict. What part of what he or she is saying to you may be true? Is this a complaint I have heard about myself before? What truth is there for me in this? Another part of introspection is asking yourself what this is bringing up for you. Are you having reactions that are connected to other parts of your life, not just with this person?

Consideration of what the other is sharing is very helpful during conflict. Being willing to consider their perspective in the conflict is a wonderful gift. Considering the possibility that both of you can see and experience the situation differently; and yet considering that both views are valid.

Being thankful for both the courage the two of you had to talk through the conflict and thankful for the opportunity to learn is key. What a wonderful attitude that would be towards conflict!

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