Conflict Resolution Skills

What is conflict?

Healthy relationships will have some conflict. Two people cannot agree on everything all the time. It is important not to avoid conflict or fear but to resolve it healthily.

Conflict can be very damaging to relationships if it is not managed well. However, when dealt with positively and respectfully, conflict can help to strengthen the bonds between people. These skills will help you resolve conflict at work, home, or school in a healthy manner and create stronger, more rewarding relationships.

Conflict 101

  • A conflict can be more than a disagreement. It’s a situation where one or both parties perceive a threat (regardless of whether or not it is real).
  • Conflicts can continue to fester if they are not dealt with. They pose perceived threats to our survival and well-being.
  • We use our perceptions about the situation to respond to conflict situations and not necessarily an objective analysis of the facts. Our life experiences, culture and beliefs influence our perceptions.
  • Conflicts can cause strong emotions. You won’t be successful in resolving conflicts.
  • Conflicts can be a source of growth. It builds trust when people can work out their differences. It is possible to feel secure in your relationship if it can withstand disagreements and challenges.

Conflict in a relationship

Differences of any size can cause conflict. Conflict occurs when people do not agree about their values, motivations or perceptions. These differences may seem trivial at times, but when conflict causes strong emotions, a deeper personal need is usually the root of the problem. These needs may include feeling secure, respected and valued, or the desire for closeness and intimacy.

Consider the different needs of a toddler versus a parent. Exploring the streets or the city’s edge is the child’s desire. The parent’s need to ensure safety for their child is met by restricting the toddler’s exploration. These needs can conflict so that conflicts may arise.

Each person’s needs play a crucial role in ensuring a long-lasting relationship. Respect and consideration are due to each party. A lack of understanding can lead to conflict, disagreements, and even breakups in personal relationships. Differing needs in the workplace can lead to broken deals, reduced profits, and even lost jobs.

It is possible to recognize conflicts and be open to understanding them. This can lead to creativity, team building and stronger relationships.

What can you do to respond to conflict?

Are you afraid of conflict, or do you prefer to avoid it? You may believe that all disagreements will end badly if you have painful childhood memories or a bad relationship. Conflict may be seen as something you fear, humiliate, or demoralizing. Conflict can even be traumatizing if you have had painful experiences in your childhood.

Fear of conflict can lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s difficult to manage conflict situations when you feel threatened. Instead, you are more likely to shut down or explode in anger.

There are healthy and unhealthy ways to manage and resolve conflict

Unhealthy responses to conflict Healthy ways to respond to conflict

Inability to respond and recognize the important things in the world around you. Ability to empathize and understand the viewpoint of others.

Anger, anger, hurtful and resentful responses. Remain calm, respectful, and non-defensive.

The withdrawal of love can cause rejection, isolation, shame, and fear of abandonment. The ability to forgive and forget and move on from conflict without resentments and anger.

A person who is unable to compromise with or see the other side. The ability to compromise and avoid punishment.

Fearful feelings or avoidance of conflict; expecting a negative outcome. The belief is that confronting conflict head-on is the best option for both parties.

Stress management, conflict resolution and emotional well-being

Conflict can cause strong emotions, leading to disappointment, hurt feelings, and discomfort. Unhealthy conflict management can lead to irreparable rifts and resentments as well as breakups. When conflict is handled healthily, it can increase your understanding of the other person and build trust. It also strengthens your relationships.

You won’t understand your needs if you are not in touch with your emotions or too stressed. It will be difficult to communicate with others and find the root cause of your problems. Couples may argue over small things like how she hangs her towels or how he eats his soup. This is not the problem that is bothering them.

Your ability to resolve conflicts successfully is a key factor in your ability to:

  • You can manage stress quickly and remain calm. Being calm allows you to understand and read non-verbal communication accurately.
  • Manage your emotions and behavior. You can communicate your needs to others without intimidating, threatening, or punishing them.
  • Be aware of the emotions that are being expressed and the spoken words by others.
  • Respect differences and be aware of them. You can resolve problems almost instantly by avoiding disrespectful words or actions.

You need to master and practice these core skills to resolve conflict.

  1. Instant stress relief: The ability to relieve stress quickly.
  2. Emotional Awareness: The ability to be comfortable enough with your emotions that you can react constructively even when confronted by an attack.

Core skill 1: Quick stress relief

You can manage and alleviate stress at any time. This is key to staying focused, balanced, and in control no matter your circumstances. If you don’t know the best way to keep your center and control, you will find yourself overwhelmed by conflict situations and unable to respond in healthy ways.

Connie Lillas, a psychologist, uses a driving analogy to explain the three most common responses people have when they are overwhelmed by stress.

A frantic or aggressive stress response. You are hyperactive, emotional, and can’t sit still.

The foot on the brake. A withdrawn or depressed stress response. You are unable to express emotion or energy.

Tense, frozen stress response. Use both the brake and gas pedal. Under pressure, you “freeze” and can’t do anymore. Although you appear paralyzed on the surface, you are extremely agitated underneath.

Conflict resolution and stress

By limiting your ability: Stress can interfere with your ability to resolve conflict.

  • It is possible to read the body language of another person accurately.
  • Hear what is said.
  • Pay attention to your emotions.
  • Stay in touch with your deepest, most fundamental needs.
  • Communicate your needs

Is stress a problem?

You might be so used to feeling stressed out that you don’t even realize you feel stressed. If you can identify with these signs, stress could be a problem for the rest of your life:

  • It is common to feel tight or tense in one area of your body.
  • When you breathe, your stomach or chest are not moving at all.
  • Conflict can consume your attention and time.

Learn how to manage stress right now 

Engaging one or more senses is a great way to reduce stress quickly. A stress ball could be squeezed, a soothing scent could be inhaled, a cup of tea could be sipped, or a photograph was taken. You all respond differently to sensory input. This can vary depending on our stress levels. Take some time to look at things that soothe you.

Core skill 2: Emotional awareness

Understanding yourself and others is possible only if you have emotional awareness. You won’t communicate effectively with others or resolve disputes if you don’t understand why you feel the way you do.

It may seem simple to know your feelings, but many people ignore or suppress strong emotions such as anger, sadness, and fear. However, your ability to manage conflict depends on how connected you are to these emotions. Your ability to resolve conflicts and face them head-on will be severely limited if you are afraid of strong emotions or insist on rational solutions.

How emotional awareness can be a key factor in conflict resolution

Emotional awareness is the consciousness of your moment-to-moment emotional experience. It’s the foundation of any communication process that can resolve conflicts.

You can use emotional awareness to:

  • Understanding what bothers other people
  • Understanding yourself and what bothers you
  • Keep going until the conflict is resolved
  • Communicate clearly and effectively
  • Influence others through your interest

Assessing your emotional awareness

This quiz will help you determine your emotional awareness. The following questions can be answered: very rarely, sometimes, often, very frequently, almost always. There is no right or wrong answer, but you can learn more about your emotions by answering the following questions.

Which kind of relationship do your emotions have with you?

  • Are you able to feel fluid emotions, experiencing one emotion after the other as your experiences change?
  • Do you feel emotions accompanied by physical sensations in areas like your stomach, chest, or abdomen?
  • Are there distinct emotions and feelings like anger, sadness and fear?
  • Are you able to feel intense emotions strong enough that they grab your attention?
  • Are you paying attention to your emotions? How do they impact your decision-making?

These experiences may not be familiar to you, and your emotions might be “turned down” or off. In either case, you may need help developing your emotional awareness. 

Nonverbal communication is key to conflict resolution.

People often use words not directly related to the issue when they are involved in a conflict. You can understand the meaning of the other person’s body language and nonverbal signals by paying attention to their facial expressions, gestures, voice and posture. This will help you respond in a way that builds trust and gets to the core of the problem.

Your emotional awareness is key to your ability to read another person’s emotions. You will recognize the subtle clues that others may be feeling if you are more aware of your emotions. Consider what you’re transmitting to others in conflict. Check if your body language matches what you say. If you say “I’m fine”, but then clench your teeth and look away from the mirror, your body is communicating that you are not “fine.” A calm voice, a soothing touch, or a curious facial expression can help to ease tensions.

Here are some more tips for managing and resolving conflict

These guidelines will help you ensure positive outcomes in managing and resolving conflicts.

Pay attention to what you feel as well as what you say. You will be more open to the needs and emotions of others and yourself. Listening strengthens, informs and makes it easier to hear others when they speak.

Conflict resolution should be your priority, not winning or being right. Building and maintaining a relationship should always be your top priority. Respect the viewpoints of others.

Keep your eyes on the present. Holding grudges from past conflicts will make it difficult to see the truth of the situation. Instead of dwelling on the past and blaming the problem, look at the present and see what you can do to fix it.

Choose your battles. Conflicts are exhausting. It would be best to evaluate whether the issue is worth your time and effort. You might not want to give up a parking spot if you have been circling for 15 mins, but fighting over one space is not worth it if there are many.

Forgiveness is a virtue. Conflict resolution is not possible if you are unable or unwilling to forgive others. The only way to resolve conflict is to let go of punishing others. This can only deplete and drain you.

Learn when to let things go. Don’t try to reach an agreement. Let it go. To keep an argument alive, it takes two people. You can choose to end a conflict if it is not going anywhere.

Humor in conflict resolution 

Communicating humorously can help you avoid confrontations and solve disagreements. Humor can be a way to communicate otherwise difficult things without offending anyone. It’s important to laugh with your partner, not at them. Humor and play can reduce tension, anger and reframe problems. This will allow for greater connection, intimacy, and connection.

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