Conflict – A common problem
Do you run from conflict? Would you rather put up with almost anything than risk a disagreement and argument? Then perhaps you are one of the many who are not confident with conflict. Faced with conflict we take to flight, we hide from the feelings that are bound to follow a confrontation.
In reality we would all rather that it all went smoothly and that everyone was treated decently. The need for conflict would not be there. Yet as we sail life’s oceans it would seem that the occasion wave is set to strike us. So is there a way to tackle conflict confidently. A way that you can at least make your point of view known, with as little anger and irate expression as possible.
If we could quantify the fear that goes with conflict, many of us would describe fear of emotions. Fear of anger, of being blamed, of being hurt, of being made to feel guilt or feeling small. It is easy for our emotion to be tied up in deeply held opinion and often one emotion masks another. Anger often masks fear. Try to see behind the personal emotions or insults that may be flung and try to attack only facts or positions. It is fine to be enthusiastic in your defence of your position, but avoid personal criticism.
Listening is the key skill in conflict. Listen to what the other person has to say. Be ready to acknowledge what they may have to say that you agree with and be ready to say where you may have changed your position. These three things make sure that the others know that you have heard them and are prepared to work to a shared solution. If you listen with respect and quietly you have the right to expect that of those you are discussing with and again allow that to happen, sets up the environment for co-operation.
Sometimes the emotion takes over and the discussion breaks down into shouting, don’t be afraid to walk away with no agreement, first saying that you want to discuss it when everyone is a little calmer. Discussions rarely come to positive conclusions when conducted through megaphones.
It is always best to sick to facts in conflicts, but some conflicts are about feelings. If you are going to talk about thoughts or feelings be careful to only talk about your own thoughts and feelings because you cannot know for sure what other people had in their heads.
By trying to stay calm by asserting your position, based on fact or feelings that you own, after listening to the other person, you should be able to tackle any conflict that comes your way. While conflict may remain uncomfortable you can at least be confident in your approach to tackling it.