The Best Advice about How to Handle Conflict
Conflict is Inevitable
"You [insert accusation here]!" It's never a welcomed statement. I don't know many people who go looking for conflict, and those who do typically have some unresolved psychological or emotional issues causing their conflict-seeking behaviors.
How do you handle conflict? Do you try to avoid it at all costs? Do you turn and run from it? Or do you face it head on and try to find a resolution both people can live with?
No matter what stage of life you are in, conflict is a normal part of relationships, so you will at some point find yourself dealing with conflict. It's probably not something most of us enjoy or look forward to, but learning how to handle it successfully can mean a happier, healthier life from reduced stress.
What about you?
How do you usually handle conflict?
First, an Example - From the Movie, Fireproof
Marriages is probably the number one opportunity for situations of conflict to arise, since we are living day in and day out with our spouse and attempting to work together on a number of important life issues, some of which we may view very differently!
This movie scene from Fireproof provides the perfect foundation for the advice I was given about how to handle conflict, so please take a moment to watch. Pay attention to the perspective of each person as they tell "their side" of the story of conflict in their marriage to their friends.
Ever been there?
It's Not about You
I was sitting at a business convention listening to a speaker when I first learned this advice for handling conflict. It's one of those things that is so simple, you might dismiss it. The idea is to change your perspective about the other person, and to realize that what is happening is not about you, no matter how much it may seem that way. The person you are having conflict with is doing or saying things "for" themselves, rather than "against" you.
As I began thinking about this, I had to agree that it is very true. We all look at life, generally speaking, as to how it impacts us, our goals, our dreams, our desires, our needs. What we don't understand a lot of the time is that everyone else is doing the same thing.
There are always exceptions to the rule, but I believe this advice applies to most conflict. Think about it for a moment. You're driving down the road, and someone cuts you off! You'd like to strangle them. How dare they cut you off like that! Right? But in reality, most likely they were not driving along and as soon as they spotted you decided they wanted to cut you off. They saw an opportunity to change lanes in front of you, even if it might be cutting it a little close, because they are wanting to get wherever they are going as quickly as possible. Maybe they are running late, or maybe they just aren't thinking about that space in front of you in quite the same way you are.
When I first heard this advice about how to handle conflict, it was like a relief. Whenever dealing with a conflict, the natural response seems to be feeling like you are being "attacked", which is why you may tend to get defensive. But understanding this is not the case can free you to respond very differently by keeping emotion from taking over.
Another Perfect Example
In this clip, they both realize that the source of the conflict in their relationship was selfishness... he says it in his words, the perfect example of someone doing something "for" himself, rather than "against" her.
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