Overcoming Conflict: 5 Things I've Learned

Overcoming conflict: Conflicts are a normal part of life and they tend to happen in virtually every setting. I’ve tried to avoid conflict throughout my life. It’s not because I’m afraid of the opposing party, it’s because I don’t want to fly off the handle.  

There was this one time when I really lost it. I was pushed to engage, I engaged fully, and it got ugly. The good news is that the old lady gave me back the deli meat I preordered – conflict resolved!

I have gotten better at dealing with conflict though.

Conflicts evoke feelings of anxiety, self-doubt, low self-esteem and just about every other kind of discomfort. As a result, many if not most of us avoid conflict at all costs.

When we do commit, it often leads to raised voices, increased heart rate, and saying things we don’t really mean. Even worse, it can lead to hurting others feelings and risking relationships. 

As with just about any challenge, the solution lies in confronting it. Doing so can be life-changing. We learn about ourselves and others. We become more resilient. We evolve, and we experience inner peace. 


Overcoming Conflict: 5 Things I've Learned

1.     It Teaches Us to Respect Other Viewpoints

The reason there’s a conflict is that there are two opposing viewpoints. It’s important to try to meet in the middle if possible. I encourage you to breath and take time to listen to the other person. Try to see things from their perspective. They too have a say. Who knows, you might learn something from them. 

This doesn’t mean you have to agree with them. It just means you have to be willing to learn how to be prepared to work with them and move forward.

2.     It Gives Us a Chance to Verbalize Our Needs

Okay, you listened to them, now it’s your turn to present your case. People often take for granted who we are as individuals, even those closest to us. They don’t take the time to see how we feel about things. This stems from our lack of verbalizing what it is we want or need. As time passes, resentment grows.   

This is your opportunity to flush those toxic feelings down the toilet. Voice your opinions and share your feelings. The more you do this the easier it gets. The first couple of times I did this, I felt guilty, as if I was out of line. I finally realized that I get to have a say when it comes to my life. To that point, it’s important to remember that it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. Present your case, but be civil when doing so.

3.    It  Improves Our Communication and Listening Skills

Being a good communicator requires patience and self-control. As with most things in life, the more you practice good communication skills, the better you become. As I stated above, it's not what you say, it’s how you say it. Don’t let fear and anxiety fuel an angry outburst.

Resist the urge to think about what you’re going to say next. Allow yourself to pause and absorb what the other person is trying to say. Perhaps repeat what they said as a way of showing them that you are trying to understand their perspective. Then, craft your response. “Measure twice and cut once.” Cooler heads do prevail. 


4. It Presents an Opportunity To Forge A Bond With The Other Person

One of the ways conflicts can be a useful tool is by allowing you to fine-tune your opinions and ideas. As different thoughts are expressed, your perspectives may change. When you really stop and listen to the other person, you may actually reach some common ground and realize you are seeking the same outcome.

I experienced this with a family member recently. We were both so focused on name calling and slinging insults, that we didn’t realize we were seeking the same result. The conflict actually helped us join forces and manage a problem together. Yes, some conflicts can lead to great outcomes. We felt better once we removed the hatchets from each others backs.  

Conflict also presents an opportunity to generate new ideas and mold new approaches to overcoming problems. You begin to realize there are more similarities than differences between you and your counterpart. The “counterpart” soon becomes a fellow advocate.

5. It Teaches You About You 

Once I committed myself to overcoming conflicts, I realized I was stronger than I thought. It also made me realize that I have the capability of evolving as a human being. That which once gave me great anxiety became a beacon of hope for future personal development.

I hope you have found these points helpful. As with anything, you must believe in the process and allow yourself to be an eager participant in your journey. I continue to learn more about myself just when I think I know it all.

I encourage you to give yourself the gift of personal discovery and evolution. ~Ted

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