When a conflict is mishandled, it can cause great harm to a relationship, but when it is handled respectfully and positively, it would indeed provide an opportunity to strengthen the bond between the two people. Whether you’re experiencing a conflict at home, work, or school, learning these skills can help you to resolve differences healthily and build stronger and more rewarding relationships thereon.

Conflict resolution 101 —

* Conflict is beyond a disagreement- When it arises between two parties, it evolves into something more than just a disagreement. It is a situation in which both parties perceive a threat (whether or not the threat is real).

* Conflicts continue to fester when ignored- This is so because conflicts involve discerning threats to our well-being and survival, they stay with us until we face and resolve them. Ignoring is not a solution to anything.

* Conflicts are influenced by our perspective- We respond to conflicts based on our perspective of the situations and according to our surroundings, not necessarily with an objective view of the facts presented. Our point of view is highly influenced by our life experiences, culture, values, and beliefs.

* Conflicts trigger strong emotions- If you aren’t comfortable with your emotions, try to manage them in times of stress. This will ensure the successful resolution of a conflict.

* Conflicts are an opportunity for growth- When you’re able to resolve conflict in a relationship, it will automatically build trust. You can feel secure knowing that your relationship can survive all challenges and disagreements coming ahead.

The ability to successfully resolve conflict depends on your ability to:

* Manage stress quickly while being alert and calm. By staying calm, you can accurately read and interpret things with a positive outlook whether it is verbal or non-verbal communication.

* Control your emotions and behavior. When you’re in charge of your emotions, you can communicate your feelings without intentionally or unintentionally threatening, intimidating, or punishing others.

* Pay attention to the feelings which are being expressed by one. While doing this try to understand what others are trying to say.

* Take care and respect differences that might arise. By avoiding disrespectful words and actions, you can win a conflict more promptly.

Non-verbal communication and conflict resolution.

When people are in the middle of a conflict, their words rarely convey the issues at the heart of the problem. But if we pay close attention to the other person’s ‘body language’, such as facial expressions, posture, gestures, and tone of voice, we can better understand what the person wants to convey. This will allow you to respond in a better way that will build trust and definitely will lead to the root of the problem.

The ability to accurately read another person depends on your emotional awareness. The more aware you are of your own emotions, the easier it will be for you to understand wordless clues that would reveal what others are feeling. Think about what you are communicating with others during the conflict, and observe what you say is it matching to your body language. If you say “I’m fine,” but you clench your teeth and look away, then your body is signaling that you are not fine but pretending to be, “fine.” A calm tone of voice, a comforting touch, or a caring facial expression can go a long way towards relaxing a tense exchange.

Some more tips for managing and resolving conflict:

You can ensure that the process of managing and resolving a conflict is as positive as possible by adhering to the following guidelines:

Listen to the other person’s feelings and at the same time what they are saying. When you listen, you connect more deeply to your own needs and emotions and those of other people. Listening also strengthens, informs, and makes things easier for others. This way when it’s your turn to express they would want to hear. 

Make conflict resolution a priority rather than winning or “being right” every time. Be respectful to other people and their perspectives regarding things.

Focus on what you have today as there is no tomorrow. If you’re holding on to grudges based on past conflicts, your ability to see the reality of the present situation will be weakened. Rather than looking into the past and assigning blame, focus on what you can do in the present situation.

Choose your battles sensibly. Conflicts can be draining, so you need to consider perspective humor whether the issue is worth your time and energy.

Consider: you are looking for a parking spot, after about 15 minutes you finally find a vacant spot. But, if there were dozens of empty spots in the same parking area, arguing over a specific spot would be quite pointless.

Be forgiving. Resolving conflict is impossible if you are not willing or unable to forgive others. Resolution lies in releasing the urge to punish, if not it would only serve as a source to deplete and degrade your life. Ultimately it would leave you in a gloomy mood/ state.

Observe things and try to ascertain when to let things go. If you can’t agree, then agree to disagree. It takes two people to keep an argument going. If a conflict is going nowhere, you have a choice and can choose to disengage and move on.

Humor in conflict resolution. You can avoid many confrontations and resolve arguments and disagreements by just communicating humorously. Humor is something that can help you to express your emotions that might otherwise be difficult to express without offending someone. However, you must laugh with the other person. But remember! Not at them. When humor and play are used to reduce tension and anger, reframe problems, and put the situation into perspective, the conflict can become an opportunity for greater connection and intimacy.