Can’t We All Just Get Along? Resolving Conflict Peacefully
by Maureen Pollard,
Emotional Health Editor, KBI Inspire Magazine
Maureen Pollard, MSW, RSW is a registered social worker with a private practice in Cobourg, Ontario. Visit her online at: maureenpollardmsw.com
Whenever people are together for any length of time, whether it’s working together or sharing space, conflict is inevitable. We all have unique ways of viewing the world and we do things differently, so it’s only natural that at times we’ll disagree about how things should go. It’s good to keep this in mind, and it’s also good to have some strategies in mind to help you navigate relationships when conflict happens.
Expect conflict and welcome it as an opportunity for improving relationships. When we know that conflict is natural, we don’t take it personally. We can take it in stride as we learn and grow together.
Ask questions and listen to understand. We’re often only half listening to people as we think ahead to what we want to say. That can really get in the way of learning what the needs are at the heart of the conflict.
Stay calm, curious, and cautious. Everyone is trying to do their best to get their needs met. When we stay calm it’s easier to be curious about what the other person needs and what we need, too! Be careful you aren’t making assumptions or jumping to conclusions too soon in the process.
Look for ways you already agree. Once you remember that you have some common ground and that you may be trying to achieve the same goals, it’s easier to find solutions that will help each person feel satisfied.
Stay focused on the outcome. It’s easy to get caught up in the role of victim—feeling blamed and stuck in a problem. How can you challenge yourself and the other person to create a solution that helps everyone involved?
Celebrate success. When you reach a decision that helps everyone cooperate and collaborate, it’s worth noticing. You don’t need a certificate or a party, but words of appreciation and maybe a high five or handshake can help everyone soak in the success.
Remember: Behaviour is communication. Actions tell you what someone needs. Managing your own emotions and using relationship building skills such as active listening will go a long way to resolving conflict in the best possible way.