Conflict is the beginning of consciousness.
–Mary Esther Harding
Conflict is inevitable when humans live together, so the only way you can avoid it is to live a hermit’s life. Not interested in living like a hermit? Want to develop and nurture long-lasting relationships instead? Then you’ll definitely want to improve your skills in dealing with conflict.
Before we get into some great tips on how to do that, let’s debunk the myth that all conflict is bad. It’s not. Throughout history we’ve had social structures in which conflict is not only constant and recurring, it’s actually welcome. For example, most judicial systems are set up to resolve conflicts in a well-ordered, constructive way. Legislative activities, such as elections and lawmaking, provide forums for discourse and processes to change the status quo.
In the end, it’s not the conflict itself that is good or bad, it’s how you respond to it and deal with it that matters. When you recognize the value of constructive conflict, you can use it to create positive change and increase consciousness.
How can you tell the difference between conflict that is constructive and conflict that is destructive?
Conflict is constructive if it results in:
On the other hand, when conflict is not constructively resolved, it can lead to ill feelings that divide people and polarize the issues even more. It can also produce irresponsible or destructive behaviors.
Basically, constructive conflict is when you and another person resolve your disagreement in such a way as to build trust and respect for each other. It also means that you actually deal with the conflict, rather than suppress or avoid it.
10 Tips For Dealing With Conflict
1. Stop, take a deep breath and write down a BPO ahead of time before you try to resolve the conflict. BPO stands for "Best Possible Outcome." If you don't envision the outcome that you want, it's hard to manifest it… or something better.
2. Be prepared to negotiate and heed Lao Tzu’s advice: “In conflict, be fair and generous.” Just remember that when resolving a conflict, you sometimes you need to compromise, so think ahead before you sit down and talk to the other person.
3. Pursuant to tip number 2 above, find common ground without forcing change.
4. Don’t start sentences with an accusing “you” as in, “You did this and you did that…”; instead say something like, “To me, what seems to have happened is…” or “The way it looks to me is…”
5. Maintain a sense of dignity and respect between you, and let the other person save face whenever possible. Though it is sometimes difficult, think of this as part of your effort to embody that great piece of advice given to us by Gandhi: "Be the change you wish to see..."
6. Practice good listening. Be fully present. Try your best not to form answers and defenses in your mind before the other person is finished speaking.
7. Take Stephen Covey's excellent advice from his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: "Seek first to understand, then to be understood."
8. Don't make general sweeping statements. Support your opinions and feelings with facts or examples of specific behavior.
9. When describing the issue you want to discuss, end with a question. In the book, Crucial Confrontations, the authors suggest that you ask a simple diagnostic question like “What happened?” and make it an honest inquiry rather than a veiled threat or accusation like “What’s wrong with you?”
10. Don’t bring up the past. Instead, start with a clean slate. See tip number 1 – it helps if you bring a sense of optimism, possibility and future-focus to the conversation.
Angela Loëb is an author, speaker and self-development consultant who loves to study, teach and write about mind mastery, spirituality and life purpose. More at http://about.me/angelarloeb