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
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
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
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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