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Be Happy By Dealing With Conflict

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Finding productive ways to get through conflict improves the quality of relationships and mental health.

Have you ever felt unheard in a relationship?  Have you ever been so embroiled in drama that you didn’t know how to sort things out?  It’s not easy dealing with conflict, and, truth be told, there’s not a whole lot of people who are good at it.  It’s worth the practice though to get good at dealing with conflict because it’s your happiness that’s on the line.  As the saying goes, “it takes two to tango!”  That means, you have an opportunity to shed some light and increase someone else’s well-being too.

There are many “formulas” for dealing with conflict but they all encompass the basics of setting healthy boundaries, owning up to what you are responsible for, and making a plan for moving forward.

How To Deal With Conflict

  1. Discuss what happened from each person’s perspective.  This only works if each person agrees to “air things out” once and then move on.  If venting turns into a back and forth volley of fault and blame-finding, then it’ll be much more destructive and frustrating than the original conflict.  If it’s appropriate, discuss how the other person’s behavior made you feel.  Also, remember that not everyone is good at talking about their feelings and maybe that’s not the best way to try and resolve things.
  2. Acknowledge the difference between intent and impact.  Perhaps someone’s original intent was to do something helpful but the overall impact on you was negative.  If you can see things from each other’s perspective with intent and impact, then it helps to move forward into the next steps.
  3. Take ownership.  As we said, it takes two to tango.  When it comes to relationships, miscommunication or wrongly set expectations can lead to an eruption for one or both parties.  Usually there’s something that each person involved has done that contributed to the actual conflict.  Even if the other person isn’t willing to take ownership for their part of it, if you take ownership for your part, then you can move on.  Sometimes the other person may just need time and space to process before they can move forward.
  4. Make a plan.  It might not be the perfect plan but maybe it’s just a starting place to try and figure things out.  Deep seeded conflict can take awhile to work it’s way out and there might be several plans.  It’s OK to check-in and see how things are going, perhaps readjusting the plan along the way.  As long as “the plan” remains an open conversation where both people are heard and respected, then there’s progress and growth.
  5. Accept that we’re all imperfect people trying to get along.  You can’t change other people but you can change your reaction to their behaviors.  Remember that just because someone did something that upset you doesn’t make them a bad person.  Sometimes you have to readjust your personal boundaries so that the negative actions of someone else doesn’t add up to negative consequences for you.  That’s a perfectly healthy and normal way of dealing with relationships.  Setting boundaries not only empowers you but it gives the other person a choice in the relationship as well as long as they know what the consequences are of their negative behaviors.

As we said, it’s not easy but it’s worth it.  Perhaps one of these steps you’re really good at but your partner isn’t.  Figure out your own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to dealing with conflict and look for ways to build on each other’s strengths.  If conflict happens in a work situation, maybe it’s helpful to have a third, impartial party joining in to help mediate and make sure things turn out fair for both people.  The goal of any conflict should be to invite someone else into having a conversation.  In the end, you can improve your relationships, know others better, and be known yourself in new ways that will help to spur growth and positive change in the areas where you need it the most.

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