So, I hate dealing with conflict. Secretly (or not so secretly) I want everyone to be happy and get along. I want everyone to like me. I am going to blame this on growing up in the midwest. Even though I wish everything was sunshine and rainbows all the time, I do know that it’s not realistic and dealing with conflict is a necessary (and healthy) part of life. I thank living in NYC for 7 years for that life lesson.
In my experience, avoiding conflict has led to being taken advantage of, problems spiraling out of control, and not having important needs met in my relationships. Most importantly, not dealing with conflict means you aren’t communicating effectively. Everyone knows that lack of communication ruins relationships.
I’ve improved my communication style dramatically over the years. Most of that is due to research, learning and communication practice. Because of that practice, my Husband’s encouragement (he is a communication ninja), and life experience – dealing with conflict has become easier.
In the last several weeks I’ve had quite a few situations fall into my lap that required me to confront someone for one reason or another. Some of that conflict has been personal and some professional. Some of the situations have been unfair and have made me incredibly angry. I was in a position where I had to figure out how to confront the situation and get a positive solution, while acknowledging my anger and keeping my integrity.
Here are 5 quick tips that have helped me in dealing with confrontation:
- Be honest. If the mistake was yours, admit it. If you are upset, tell them. If you are hurt, acknowledge it. Don’t let your pride or your anger keep you from being honest and owning your responsibility in the situation.
- Don’t let your anger control your words. I could give you a lot of reasons why you shouldn’t do this. The most important one is that it’s incredibly ineffective. If you are speaking out of anger only, you are not going to be able to get your point across, and the person will most likely tune you out. This doesn’t mean don’t BE angry or acknowledge your anger. This just means, take a step back from your anger and think about the message and the delivery.
- Acknowledge that you can’t force someone to be honest with you or to have integrity. You cannot force someone to communicate with you. However, you can be very persistent. Don’t be afraid to ask over and over until you either get what you need or can have a dialogue about the problem.
- Don’t bad mouth the person or air out your dirty laundry. That’s just in poor taste. Unless of course, you have a blog! 😉
- Be polite. There is always a place for good manners, even in the middle of an argument or a dispute.
Conflict is not easy, but communicating effectively can be a relationship-saver.
What are your tips for taking the high road when dealing with conflict?