Wherever you have different people you will have the possibility of conflict, and depending on how the conflict is resolved it can be constructive or destructive.
And yes it takes two to tango, it is never just one person that causes conflict, however one person can change the conflict to a positive outcome. Easier said than done you think, well not really. Only one person’s attitude has to change for the whole dynamic within the relationship to change.
Think about it, if you change your behavior then the other person will change their response to your behavior. In theory, it’s that simple, the tough part is changing your behavior because behaviors become habit forming so you need to be prepared to change your habits. And the easiest way to change a habit is to replace it with a different habit. Research shows it can take 21 days to change a habit and integrate it as a normal response so this is something to be aware of and consciously work on changing.
Conflict in life is inevitable and it occurs when we want something from someone or we have a difference of opinion. It can also occur when we forget that our relationships need to be constantly nurtured and cared for to keep a level of understanding, respect and love between two people.
All too often we blame the other person, rather than telling them how we feel which is far more productive. Or we can tend to let little things go by and keep the irritation bubbling within us until one more thing happens and we explode being over-reactive to something minor.
Positive conflict resolution is about respecting others whilst still being true to yourself. Here are some behavior change suggestions to integrate as habits into your life.
1. Instead of taking an angry blaming stance, which will provoke an aggressive response, use “I” statements to say how you feel when there is a conflict. For example: “I feel hurt and annoyed when you come home late and I’ve prepared your dinner”. Then follow up with an action point: “Can you please call and let me know next time”.
2. Respect others points of view, don’t be so controlling or inflexible that they have to share your every value and belief.
3. Avoid letting small issues build into large conflicts, say how you feel as you go, rather than let it fester inside of you.
4. Don’t deny that anything is wrong; putting your head in the sand wont solve the issue, be prepared to work through conflicts.
5. Put yourself in the others shoes, try to understand their position and validate how they’re feeling.
6. Make sure your non-verbal communication is in line with how you feel. Don’t put on a happy face when you’re expressing how you feel about a recent conflict. Your communication needs to be consistent.
7. Focus on the positive, instead of only expressing the negative.
8. Work together to gain the best possible outcome, rather than adopting a “you and them” attitude.
9. Work towards a win-win outcome. Find a middle ground, which suits both.
10. If win-win outcomes are not possible then be prepared to take turns, if you win this time they win next time.
Conflict is not always bad; it’s the way you handle conflict, which can make the difference. By adopting these behavioral changes conflict can become a productive source of getting to know each other and developing a closer stronger bond.