Conflict in life is inevitable. No matter where you go or who you are with, you will encounter conflict at some point. It is important to develop healthy conflict resolution strategies, though, to ensure ongoing successful relationships with the important people in your life.
There are many things that can lead to conflict. Whether it occurs in your personal or in your professional relationships, each person brings his or her own moods, ideas, habits, and needs into the relationship. Each of these things creates the possibility of conflict.
When people do not get what they want or perceive they are not getting what they need, conflict can arise as those people begin to act out. Sudden change, boredom, or poor communication can serve to enhance that person’s already acute sense of frustration, hastening the occurrence of the conflict and potentially increasing its severity.
Failure to resolve conflict can lead to the alienation of individuals and cause rifts in relationships. Keep in mind, though, that not all conflict is necessarily negative. In many instances, conflict can lead to increased communication, uncover solutions to a problem, clarify issues, and lead to deeper emotional bonds. Conflict can be the impetus to achieving positive change in your life or in your career.
When you do encounter conflict, there are several things you can do to ensure a successful resolution:
1. Strive to Understand the Conflict
Listen closely to everyone involved, and try to do so with an unbiased mind. Ask questions to help you further understand the source of the dispute. Determine individual causes of the dispute and learn the histories of the involved parties. Closely inspect the interpersonal dynamics involved, and do not allow your attention to be diverted to peripheral issues.
2. Assess your Reasons to Resolve the Dispute
Determine what, if any, damage has been caused so far by the existence of this conflict. Damage may take the form of decreased efficiency, damaged interpersonal relationships, eroded trust, or any number of other issues. Then analyze the conflict and determine what the long term effects would be if the conflict was not successfully resolved.
3. Learn the Points of View of the Involved Parties
Speak with each person individually at length regarding the issue to determine how they arrived at their particular point of view. Once you have spoken to anyone directly involved in the conflict, seek out neutral parties and obtain their opinions. This helps you maintain a broader perspective on the conflict and may help you develop a greater understanding of the issues.
4. Determine Your Own Involvement
This is where you must look into the proverbial mirror and assess yourself. You need to determine what, if any, role you played in the development of the conflict. If you encouraged the situation at all, you need to be brutally honest with yourself and admit to those areas for which you have personal responsibility. Search not only for your contributions to the conflict, but also for areas where you may have been able to put an end to it. When we are honest with ourselves, each of us can usually find those areas in which we may have contributed to a problem.
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Once you have gone through these steps you can then focus on developing an acceptable resolution. The ability to work through conflicts in this manner leads to the development of deeper understandings of those we work or live with. Open, honest conversations regarding important issues deepen our bonds with people and lead to greater understanding of them. It also opens the door to self improvement by making us aware of our own flaws, which in turn will lead us to find solutions for improving them.
Conflict has the power to tear relationships apart, or to deepen them and create closer bonds. In order to maintain trust and to receive continued fulfillment from your personal relationships, it is important to understand the importance of good conflict resolution techniques. Implement those techniques into all of your relationships – at home and at work. Doing so will not only lead you to experiencing more rewarding relationships but can also provide you with a great deal of insight into your own thoughts, ideas, and feelings.