It is good to be all in one place, many people rarely are.
Most people will have at least one interpersonal conflict every day. In fact, conflict is a part of every interpersonal relationship. Unfortunately, it often seems that interpersonal conflicts have much more harmful than healthy approaches to a resolution. That being said, it’s important to understand negative conflict management to avoid those pitfalls and to achieve a positive resolution more easily.
Unhealthy Approaches to Conflict Resolution
Most people avoid or deny the existence of conflict. While this temporarily resolves the issue, the conflict still lingers and is easily recreated once a situation rises that requires action between or on behalf of the party in conflict. For example, avoiding a disagreement about where to hold a meeting will only resolve the issue until the meeting is imminent. Alternatively, avoiding a disagreement about something more abstract (like spiritual beliefs) can sometimes materialize into a situation of interpersonal conflict (like the Gaza Strip conflict).
Another common unhealthy approach to interpersonal conflict is to become angry or blame each other. It is never a good idea to equate a conflict with anger; becoming angry narrows the capacity to reason fairly and agitates other members of the conflict into a state of unreasoning, creating a vicious cycle of absolutely no resolution. In the situation that one or more people become angry in a conflict, it is advisable to take a break from the conflict for the emotion to diminish or pass.
Using power or influence to achieve a resolution is yet another unhealthy way to solve an interpersonal conflict. Often times the “winner” of a conflict will pride themselves in “resolving” a conflict, when really they’ve only made an executive decision for a group that undoubtedly harbors resentment and will be even less willing to cooperate in future conflicts. While executive decision-making is sometimes necessary for time-intensive situations, it is still important to consider and acknowledge other points of view. Not only will this help manage conflicts, it will also lead to better decisions.
Lastly, some people will seem to cooperate in resolving a conflict while subtly manipulating the party in conflict in the process. This not only perpetuates the conflict in most cases but also compromises the trust between them. Consider the United States’ history of repeatedly broken treaties and ill-conceived policies with Native Americans. After a history of manipulation and broken promises, the U.S. government is now having to work backwards and is drafting an “apology bill” to regain Native Americans’ trust.
The Principle of Healthy Conflict Resolution
The simple underlying principle that underscores all successful conflict resolutions is for both parties to view their conflict as a problem that must be solved mutually. This requires active participation in the resolution process from all parties involved. The worst-case scenario of this applied principle would be “agreeing to disagree,” in which all sides recognize that further conflict is unnecessary, ineffective or otherwise undesirable.
Of course, beyond this principle, there are many ways to reduce and prevent conflict, such as adjusting your tone of voice, validating the other’s stance, practicing empathy, using “I” statements, and finding positive things to address about the conflict. It is also extremely important to identify the problem in a conflict, as many conflicts are bred through misunderstanding or confusion in the first place.
Donna Reish, a freelancer who blogs about best universities contributed this guest post. She loves to write education, career, frugal living, finance, health, parenting relating articles. She can be reached via email at: email@example.com.(Bold, italicized text is input from One World class participants. Thank you!)