Conflicts between friends, family, roommates and in the workplace happen all the time. As a parent, you might find yourself getting into arguments with your child over a messy room, too many sweets, or his or her lack of effort in school. Spouses often find themselves at odds over spending habits, work ethic, or lack of emotional support. At work it might be a co-worker who isn’t doing his or her part of the job or friction with a boss who is expecting way too much out of you. Or, like a recent client experienced, a roommate’s late hours and loud music might send you over the edge. It can be a disappointing, frustrating and anger provoking experience to fight about the same issues over and over again without feeling like anything has been resolved. Many of us walk away from these situations emotionally exhausted and feeling like it’s a losing battle. We internalize the anger until the next time, or spend life feeling an unhappy about the way things are playing out. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be this way.
Research shows that a key ingredient in successful marriages, relationships and careers is the individual’s ability to effectively negotiate resolutions to the normal obstacles that are bound to arise. This is because knowing how to handle conflict in a positive way helps to diffuse the hostility by getting everyone involved to calm down, relax and therefore better able listen to all sides of the argument. Learning conflict resolution skills can turn your life around.
People who are good at conflict resolution generally have strong anger management skills and utilize them in the following ways:
1. They are able to keep their stress under control while remaining calm and clear headed. This means they don’t yell, badger or get physically violent. A levelheaded response eases the moment and makes it so others will more likely listen to their point of view.
2. They stay on topic. The discussion is strictly about the here and now without bringing up old grievances.
3. They listen to the opposing point of view with the intent to be empathetic and understanding, not to be contentious, accusatory or to have the last word. They let the other person express his or her feelings and don’t interrupt. The more respectful the conversation is, the better the chance for a positive outcome.
4. They express their position honestly and clearly but are ready and willing to make a compromise to settle the argument. They might even infuse the moment with a bit of humor to ease the tension. Differing goals are always going to occur, but they understand that it’s not about winning or losing. The resolution will come when each side makes some accommodations for the other that will build trust and enable both sides to feel better.
The only way to completely stay out of conflicts is to avoid relationships, work, school and basically everyday life. It’s impossible, so the best thing to do is prepare yourself to best deal with them when they arise.