Avoid Conflict

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Arguing with a partner, family member, or co-worker can be a lot of things: informative, helpful, destructive, or hurtful. Most people would agree that conflict is exhausting. If you’re looking to avoid conflict, there are immediate things you can do to stop a fight from happening and ways to prevent fights down the road.

Acknowledge the other person’s concerns.

If she has instigated the fight, or has responded irrationally to your concerns, verbalize this. For example, say, I realize this issue is really important to you, or I know you don’t think my idea is any good, but I do.

If the fight starts off heated or quickly escalates, remove yourself from the situation. Tell her that you need a break before returning to discuss the issues.

Calmly discuss one another’s concerns.

Make this conversation as emotionally stable as possible, no yelling or blaming. Instead, make your points brief and specific. It will be easier for her to respond to specific instances, than broad generalizations or accusations.

While this may be hard, limit the conflict to one or two main issues. The fight shouldn’t become a confrontation featuring every single flaw in your relationship or friendship.

Give her a chance to speak.

This means you should be actively listening to what she says. Don’t listen for a weakness in her reasoning or argument. Instead, listen to what she’s really trying to tell you, whether or not it’s what you want to hear.

Don’t rush the other person to talk. Letting her bring up concerns at her own pace will make her feel respected and listened to.

Respond to the other person with respect.

If you don’t agree with what she’s is saying, validate her concerns, rather than arguing with her. It may be helpful to take a few moments to gather your thoughts before responding. This will keep you from accidentally saying something hurtful. For example, I can see now why you’re upset.

Meeting the other person halfway will make her more likely to respond positively to your own concerns.

Plan your body language.

This is just as important as avoiding yelling, cursing, or name calling. Use body language that suggests an open desire to communicate, such as open arms and relaxed posture. Good eye contact is also a critical part of communication.

Avoid defensive body language, such as crossing your arms, pointing fingers, hiding your hands, or not making eye contact. These can signal an unwillingness to talk.

Use humor.

Don’t feel like an argument has to be completely serious. If you can and you think the other person is receptive, make a joke or two. This can lighten the tension and show the other person that you’re not being defensive or taking things personally.

Never make a joke at the other person’s expense. This will worsen the conflict.

Continue being a good listener.

Never stick to an inflexible opinion. Instead, constantly listen carefully what the other thinks, or has to say. If she mentions something that’s bothering her, take it seriously and respond or apologize.

Actively listening and responding to the other person will make overall communication easier.

Avoid having to be right all the time.

This is a huge source of conflict between people. Try letting go of the need to be right all the time. Instead, learn to go with the flow and communicate, without worrying about who’s right or wrong.

Letting go of the outcome will be difficult at first, but you may find that your stress level goes down. Without needing to be right all the time, you can begin to enjoy things and respect the other person.

Take some alone time, if it’s a relationship conflict.

Sometimes being with the same person too much can become stressful. Giving yourself alone time can give both of you a break, reduce tension, and make you more appreciative of each other when you do spend time together.

Spending time with your own friends can improve your mindset, making you more positive and fun to be around. Your partner, might also need some time to be themselves with their own friends.

Put yourself in the other person’s shoes.

This will improve your empathy and awareness of what she is going through. Don’t wait for a fight to consider what’s happening with her. Instead, regularly try to understand the problems and joys of the other person. This will make you feel more connected and less conflicted.

Plan important discussions.

If something begins troubling you, plan how you will bring it up to the other person. Decide what you’re going to say, how you’ll say it, and when you’ll bring it up. Keep your statement brief and specific.

Avoid bringing up problems in the heat of the moment or without much prior thought. Doing so will make you more likely to accuse the other person, respond emotionally, and simply fight.

Get counseling or mediation.

If you find that you still struggle with conflict, seek help. Ask the other person if she is willing to attend therapy or mediation. If she doesn’t want to, consider meeting with a therapist on your own. While this may not solve all of your problems, you may learn how to react and feel better about your situation.

Respond to problems before they become fights.

If you begin having problems with a co-worker, immediately begin fixing your relationship. Don’t wait for the issue to clear up on its own or it may worsen and become a conflict.

Waiting and dwelling on issues only worsens the problems. Before you know it, you might have blown the concern out of proportion, making it harder to resolve.

Be personal.

Face-to-face is a considerate way to address problems, especially when compared to emailing or texting. Deal with problems or concern in person. It’s a lot easier to say something hurtful or argumentative when communicating electronically.

While you may not be able to avoid electronic communication, just be aware of your tone and word usage, since things like body language and gestures can’t be used to interpret your meaning.

Pick your battles.

This is a pretty well-known one. Conflict is often unavoidable in a workplace with lots of people. Daily squabbles, tiffs, and arguments can spring up over a variety of issues. You need to determine what is important to you and your job. Resolve conflicts before they harm your job and work environment.

Minor problems can simply be annoyances. Learn to disregard this little issues, before they start piling up and bothering you.

Completely resolve your differences.

Don’t let problems linger. While you may have confronted the issue as soon as it came up, you also have to be sure that you’re satisfied with the resolution. Make sure you and your co-worker respect one another and are both happy with the conclusion of the conflict.

Remember that you’ll need to maintain a professional relationship with the other person. As soon as the issue is resolved, let it go. Don’t dwell on past problems or it will continue to affect your working relationship.

Enlist the help of a mediator.

Don’t be afraid to reach out to your Human Resources department for assistance. Sometimes having a third party can diffuse tension and make the conflict less emotionally charged.

You don’t have to go straight to HR. If you both would rather speak with a manager or another co-worker, try that first. The main thing is that you’re both comfortable and prepared to, talk.

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