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Managing conflict in relationships: a delicate yet necessary endeavor

Updated on February 16, 2013
Royalty of old have had so many conflicts over the years.
Royalty of old have had so many conflicts over the years. | Source

Conflict. Something that is definitely not on anyone's dinner menu. We have all had to deal with it at some point in our lives. None of us would ever claim to enjoy a conflict, though there are those who thrive on healthy debate and discussion. for some, conflict becomes part of his or her personality.

Whatever our feelings regarding the subject of conflict, there is certainly one thing that is certain about it. it has to be managed before things get blown out of proportion! Very often, in the heat of the moment or rush of emotions, it is easy to lose one's cool and get drawn into unnecessary, pervasive and stinging arguments. Whether in friendships, family or at the workplace, conflict management is a skill we must have.

The quarrel of Oberon and Tatiana by Joseph Nel Paton
The quarrel of Oberon and Tatiana by Joseph Nel Paton | Source
Source

Discovering your conflict management style

Which of these personality types do you relate to?

See results

Conflict Management Personalities

People are individuals and will respond to conflict in different ways. Here are some amusing ones-try to see which of these personalities best describes you!

Mr. Jump on the bandwagon

This charming personality will get fired up when he encounters a conflict on a topic that arouses his ire, even if the argument is between other parties, and just jump right into the argument with abandon because his passion has been fueled.

Mr "No Sides"

Mr. No Sides usually maintains that he does not want to be involved in the conflict and stays far away from it.

Many of us fall into this category. We do not want to take sides in an argument to avoid having any of our relationships affected or our feelings hurt.

Sir "I am always right"

This person must always prevail in any argument. His opinions must always come across as being the best ones. When the other party involved in the conflict can no longer be challenged because his arguments were more rational, Sir "I am always right" goes off in a huff or worse still, could take the argument to a more abusive level.

Miss Avoider

She usually avoids arguments and any potentially tense situations altogether. Passive, this lady avoids any outstanding issues until the argument gets to breaking point.

When outstanding issues have festered for a while, an even worse conflict ensues.

Mr Cold Stare

This person will not engage in any verbal battles with you, but his body language betrays his feelings and attitudes. His use of body language to propel arguments makes him quite a scary individual.

Which of these folks to you relate to?


Conflict management, a necessary interpersonal skill

With so many methods of communication and the advent of the Internet, email,social media and even video communication (even Facebook has an easily downloadable software program for video calling) we get to meet tons of people everyday.

This means that the propensity for arguments that can take place anywhere is now much higher. We get drawn into arguments really easily! So how do well rein in the conflict monster?

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Managing conflict: Asking introspective questions

I observed that my husband has an interesting, simple, and I have to admit,effective way of managing conflicts. When I asked him about it, he told me that he takes a minute to think before responding to questions, especially in the middle of a conflict , though this might make the other party a little impatient. That minute is used to ask himself some very introspective questions before dealing with the issue or argument at hand. Some of these are examples of such questions.

Is it a personality clash?

A conflict sometimes arises simply because of differences in personality. A person could be meticulous in the way things are handled while another has "an organized mess". One may have a totally different belief system from another.

Such awareness helps a person know where to start from when managing any arguments. A personality clash means having to find common ground, and compromising!

Is the conflict worth managing?

A simple rule here would be to pick your battles. Some arguments are simply not worth the effort, like a squabble over a seat on a train, or an argument with someone you might not meet for a very long time.

If arguing with the person is not going to achieve any outcome or progress, or simply appears senseless, it might be a waste of time altogether.

Does the person value his or her relationship with you as much as you do?

If the answer to that question is "yes", ground for resolving conflicts is certainly there. The other party has the same interest you do in bringing arguments to a closure.

If it is "no", then a move to resolve any argument may come to naught and other ways of resolving issues might have to take precedence.

What should or shouldn't I say?

This is probably the most important reason for my husband maintaining his minute of silence. saying the wrong thing that may inadvertently push buttons will escalate or prolong a conflict! Avoiding the buttons during any discussion can pave the way for issues to be resolved.

It is useful to spend that minute or more thinking through these questions. It diminishes the consequences of impassivity and helps to lessen the tension.

5 Conflict Management Strategies

10 things to remember when managing conflicts

Treat it as normal and expected.

Conflict will happen simply because no two people will see things in exactly the same way. as such, petty disagreements will occur. Take marriage as an example.

Deal with the issues as they arise.

If you have already established that the situation requires facing the conflict squarely, do so. You may have to meet this person on a daily basis or he may be someone close to you. Avoiding it only serves to breed more animosity and make things worse.

Empathize with the other persons's perspective!

Try to understand the other persons's point of view and put the conflict into perspective. it makes compromises easier to reach!

This is especially true of arguments at the workplace. Different people working with different aspects of an organization may come together and have various needs at hand. Instead of complaining and having great battles over them, understand what these needs are and try and reach a win-win situation.

No one's views are more "right" than another's.

Every opinion, unless completely irrational, does have its merits. Claiming superiority over another's views will just generate more resentment! Everyone has validity in what they say or do.

Do not get personal.

Deal with the issue, not the person. Focus on the situation or behavior that is inappropriate and highlight it without making the person feel that he or she is having character or pride assassinated. Blame shifting is a sure way to prolong arguments.Just explain how the situation adversely affects you and others as a form of feedback. Do it with a smile and remain friends!


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Listen actively.

That means responding and taking things into account calmly as they are being said. It makes the person feel that you are interested in what he has to say and getting the argument resolved.

Regulate your own stress and emotions.

Stay calm in any confrontation. Becoming more heated just generates more heat from the other party and an unresolved or ugly tussle. Gang fights are good examples of this.

Watch the body language!

I do not have to mention (but I do it anyway) how many people get into fights over staring.

Misinterpretation of another persons demeanor causes misunderstanding. it happens in many public areas. Gang fights are an excellent example of this.

Do not be defensive

Listen to what the other party has to say. He or she may just wish to have some concerns or views aired, or feedback that needs addressing.After all, no one is perfect.

Do not mind read or jump to conclusions.

It is a mistake to say "I know what you are thinking." Many times we do not, even with those who are the closest to us. We are not mind readers and the other party's perspective is very different from what we have in mind!

Conflict management is a most delicate yet necessary task. It is good to put it in perspective before reacting when drawn into one. .


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    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Hi, amanthtkr! Thanks for sharing! Yes, I think all of us have to take better approaches to conflict management! Thanks for sharing!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Paul. The Thailand is not called the land of smiles for no reason! Thanks for sharing!

    • amanthkr01 profile image

      Aman Thakur 4 years ago from India

      Hi,

      Really a superb hub on conflict management. You have opened the every expect of conflicts in a very lucid manner. For me, I belong to Mr " No Side" typo personality. After reading your hub I will definitely work more positively to sort out my conflicts in the future.

      Voting this hub up and sharing with the followers!!!!!!!!!!

    • wiqaralishah profile image

      Wiqar Ali Shah 4 years ago from Peshawar Pakistan

      This is an awesome hub on the topic of

      managing conflict.

    • Paul Kuehn profile image

      Paul Richard Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Michelle,

      This is an awesome hub on the topic of managing conflict. I agree with everything you say and stress that it is necessary to empathize with the opposite party, and that conflicting points should not be avoided or ignored until the situation gets worse. Having lived in Thailand for a number of years, I have learned that most Thais will try very hard to avoid direct confrontation. In many cases, the Thais will go through a third party in trying to resolve a conflict. For example, if Apisit's behavior upsets Somchai, Somchai will talk to Duang and have Duang mention to Apisit that his behavior really is upsetting to Somchai. Use of body language in managing conflict is also seen by many Thais smiling on the surface when they are really upset inside. Voted up and sharing. Also Pinning and Tweeting.

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Yes, if we let it fester, it just gets worse! Thanks for sharing, Barbara!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Hi Love Doctor! Interesting comments here. As you say, avoiding the issue isn't the best way to address it...and for a time, while the conflict is happening, nothing will be solved by coming to blows with others, especially if they are the sort who are a little narcissistic and think that their opinions are the only ones that count. Best to let them cool off before saying anything! Thanks for sharing!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      I think most of us would display a mix of these, Linda. Some will be, like these people, a mix of all these great personalities. Thanks for sharing!!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks Audrey!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Hi Dana! Thanks for sharing. Yup. Avoiding is skirting the issue at hand but not really addressing it. Thanks for coming by and commenting!

    • go-barbara-go profile image

      go-barbara-go 4 years ago

      I agree with everything lovedoctor926 says. A conflict should be dealt with, otherwise, it will continue to create gap in the family, in a relationship, in the workplace etc

    • profile image

      lovedoctor926 4 years ago

      Excellent points. Great advice.. Voted up...

      I wait till the other person calms down and then we can discuss it. I'm definitely not the type to avoid confrontation. I like to deal with the issue at hand and come to a resolution. I know many people with the Sir I'm always right mentality and so I find the best way to deal with them is to just agree with everything they're saying. It's not worth it because their opinion is the only one that counts. Personally, I believe that avoiding a problem is not the best way to deal with it because eventually it's going to resurface again so you might as well deal with it as soon as possible.

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

      I'm a mixture of all the above mentioned. It all depends upon my mood and trying to right a wrong if need be. Awesome article Michelle.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 4 years ago from California

      Just a great article Michelle--passing it on!

    • DanaTeresa profile image

      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      This is awesome advice. I see myslef in some of those that you described. Many times it is eaier to avaoid than confront. But it only makes things worse... This is a good reminder to me of what to do and what not to do... Voted up etc.

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Spy! We all don't want conflict, but it's sometimes necessary to face issues! thanks for coming by!

    • unknown spy profile image

      IAmForbidden 5 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

      a great topic you discussed here Michelle. I learned a lot, it;s tough but a necessary one

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      Absolutely, Nell. Avoiding the argument isn't the way to solve it, and you cannot avoid a conflict if it means you are being trodden on Thanks for coming by!!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      Some people thrive on it though, Hyph. Conflict is stressful. Glad you've found the hub useful!! Thanks for coming by!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi midget, yes keeping the balance is the way to go, I never used to like conflicts but then all of a sudden I started to realise that I was being trodden on slightly, now I do stick up for myself, but I hope I do it in a fair way! lol!

    • Hyphenbird profile image

      Brenda Barnes 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

      I am definitely Miss Avoider. Other people can pick and quarrel well enough without me. I cannot handle conflict of any sort. It makes me physically ill. I learned much from your Hub so now I know how to better avoid conflict and certain people.

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      The Tudors were never too good at resolving conflicts, they created them, Jo! LOL! Yes, we must alway count to ten before doing anything impulsive. Thanks for coming by, my friend!

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 5 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      A very useful hub, there is something in the old saying, first, count to ten before you let them have it. Conflict resolution was very simple for the Tudors, they just shout 'off with her head' end of story :)). But seriously,

      great job, voting up and sharing.

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Janshares! Glad you've found it useful. Thanks for coming by!

    • janshares profile image

      Janis Leslie Evans 5 years ago from Washington, DC

      Very informative and well organized. Great hub, voted useful and up!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      Grishpuri , thanks for coming by! a conflict can seriously damage. We only need to take a look at the things happening in the world today to realize this! Thanks for coming by!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Ann! I guess we all mellow as we grow older, and it becomes less important to hang on to many things. We had many concerns affecting us when we were younger, like school, then work....some of these diminish in importance when we get married, and so on. Eventually, they cease to matter! Thanks for coming by!

    • girishpuri profile image

      Girish puri 5 years ago from NCR , INDIA

      I agree any conflict can take serious turn or shape and conflicts must be resolved immediately, great tips, very useful hub, thanks

    • Ann1Az2 profile image

      Ann1Az2 5 years ago from Orange, Texas

      midget, great article. Some really good advice here, too. I can relate to a good part of it. I used to be a lot more argumentative than I am now. As you get older, things just don't seem to be as important to argue about as they used to be. Funny how that works, isn't it?

      Voted up and well done.

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      Oh dear, Hatter, that's not so good. :-( Nvm, you can argue through your limericks! That will show 'em! ;-) Thanks for coming by!

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 5 years ago from San Francisco

      I have lost the ability to talk so I cannot argue. Surprising how much of argument is speech based.

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      Yes. It is like jumping into the deep end without knowing how to swim, Mary. You just get embroiled in a battle that is endless and leaves scars. Thanks for coming by!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      That's true,Valleypoet, and why it is so human to be a mix of all these. In whatever position we are, we have to manage arguments lest they get out of hand! Thanks, Valleypoet!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      Hi Sasha, don't think you have a problem with people at all! I guess I write a lot about people skills because of my teaching background. The job deals with tons of people on a daily basis. So these come in handy! Thanks for coming by, my friend!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      It's hard when caught in the middle of one indeed, Audrey. And to remember all these management techniques then is definitely a task. Thanks for coming by!!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      As we all do, Mary. There are the aggressive types who just thrive on it, and it is a sign of insecurity. Thanks for coming by, Mary!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Best advice in this informative hub is "pick your battles" and "listen actively". Jumping into any conflict without knowing all the facts or when it really doesn't apply to you is about the worst thing you can do.

      Voted this up, useful, and interesting.

    • profile image

      Valleypoet 5 years ago

      I think the problem with personality 'types' is that we can put ourselves comfortably within more than one category, depending on how strong our opinion is on the subject or conflict. Nonetheless management of how we conduct conflicts is, of course, extremely important, and you have presented some very good advice here. Voted up:-))

    • Mama Kim 8 profile image

      Sasha Kim 5 years ago

      Thank you for more people skill lessons ^_^ I'm awkward around most people so these come in handy, thank you! Voted up and shared!!

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 5 years ago from California

      I find it difficult to maintain perspective in the midst of conflict --great write--clever, entertaining and informative!

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 5 years ago from Florida

      Great Hub. I hate conflict of any kind, and I'll go out of my way to avoid it. I've had friends who were always looking for a fight, they loved conflict.

      I voted this Hub up, and will share.

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      This is great insight, Richard. I like the idea of asking a steady stream of logical questions that will eventually corner the irrational mind. Harder to do so with teens, though, like I wrote about the other day! They persist on being irrational, because they are a tad too young as well. Thanks, Richard!

    • rcrumple profile image

      Rich 5 years ago from Kentucky

      The first rule of negotiations is to never allow emotions to enter the picture. The person who remains calm will always come out on top, because rational thinking will always out do emotional. Asking a steady stream of logical questions that lead a person to the point you wish to take them will keep them in check and they will get frustrated by not being able to respond in any other way but where you've taken them. It sounds cruel, but it's a proven method of handling the challenges of dealing with conflict. Great Job!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      A tough process, yes, Bill. But both parties must be willing to compromise. Neither is completely right or wrong!! Glad you and Bev do so!!

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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      It can be like walking onto a mine field, never knowing when things will blow up and someone will get hurt. Bev and I sit down and talk...we may not like what is being said, but we stay there until we have both understood and come to an agreement. It is painful but it is necessary.

      Good job Michelle!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      True, Carol, even the strongest relationships break down because of a conflict that pops out of nowhere. It's best to clear the air as fast as possible....or it will just fester and escalate!! Thanks,Carol!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      That's so true, Janine. We really must learnt the art of picking our battles and fighting as fairly as we can. Thinking before we speak is so hard, but I quote my husband as an example because he is one who is really disciplined enough to do it! We are really lucky to have great husbands who can compromise!! Thanks for coming by, my friend!

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 5 years ago from Arizona

      Needless to say this is a great hub with a message. Conflict can turn into a war. Relationships are fragile and even strong ones can fall apart with a bad conflict. Resolve on the spot or at least when you cool off..but don't brush the crumbs under the rug. They are never fun but part of life. Great hub..Up and shared.

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

      Michelle, this article is so very informative and interesting. I loved your quiz in the middle and I voted too. I am not a person who thrives on conflict that said being married for over 6 years, I have learned as you said to pick my battles and to fight fair. I try very hard to (like your husband) think before I speak, because I really don't want to say something that I can never take back. Also, I am very lucky, because my husband gets over things quick and is also good comprise. Thanks for sharing this with strategies too and have of course voted, shared and tweeted too!!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      Conflict management is a most delicate yet necessary task. Some stratgies and things to consider to make the process easier.