Managing conflict in relationships: a delicate yet necessary endeavor
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.
Discovering your conflict management style
Which of these personality types do you relate to?
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.
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!
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. .
Other articles on relationships by Michelle Liew
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- A Wonderful Expression - the importance of smiling a beautiful smile
- What do we do with a destructive gossip?
On the damaging effects of gossip and how to deal with it.
- How to start and maintain an engaging conversation: common errors in conversations
An article about making conversations and the common mistakes we make while being in conversation