Conflict is an inevitable part of life (especially around the holidays). There will always be moments when we don’t see eye to eye with others. Yet, instead of dreading these conflicts, we can transform them into opportunities for growth by mastering the art of conflict resolution.
Understanding Conflict Resolution
Conflict resolution is the art of coming together to discuss and resolve conflicting needs. It typically occurs when individuals hold differing views, values, desires, or ideas. At its core, conflict revolves around unmet relational needs – the need to be understood, acknowledged, feel secure, and respected, or to deepen intimacy.
In personal relationships, unmet and unspoken needs can lead to distance, arguments, and even breakups. However, when handled with compassionate understanding, conflicts can be resolved, and a sense of mutual trust can thrive.
Successful conflict resolution has the power to strengthen the bond between two individuals and enhance their relationship. Conversely, mishandling conflicts can lead to harm.
Embracing Conflict Resolution Skills
Conflict resolution skills are our toolkit for addressing conflicts, even when emotions run high. When handled successfully, conflicts can even bring people closer. These skills can turn conflict into a collaborative effort, rather than an individual struggle.
Let’s explore some healthy conflict-resolution skills:
- Attend & Accept
The first step in resolving conflicts is to attend and accept. When in conflict with someone, start by listening and attending to what they are saying. Lean in, show genuine interest, and display empathy. Offer a nod or even a reassuring mumble. More importantly, show that you accept their feelings. Validating someone’s emotions is a powerful way to de-escalate the situation. Reflecting their words back to them or acknowledging the validity of their feelings can work wonders. When people feel heard and understood, their emotions naturally settle, making them more open to what you have to say.
- Relieve Stress Quickly
High emotions can cloud your judgment during a conflict. Stress can hinder your ability to assess the situation accurately, understand the other person, and recognize your own needs. To alleviate stress, engage in soothing activities that target your senses – sight, taste, touch, smell, and sound. Play your favorite song, squeeze a stress ball, enjoy a calming scent, or take a relaxing bath. These activities will help clear your mind and release tension, allowing you to focus on the conversation at hand when the time comes.
- Be Aware of Your Emotions
Emotional awareness is a cornerstone of conflict resolution. Identifying your feelings and effectively communicating them is essential for understanding yourself, clarifying your needs, and empathizing with others. Start by acknowledging what you’re feeling and then reflect on why you feel that way.
- Work on Your Nonverbal Communication
In conflict resolution, what you don’t say often speaks louder than words. Your nonverbal cues, including facial expressions, body language, tone of voice, and posture, play a significant role in conveying your feelings. Maintain an engaged presence during the discussion by making eye contact, offering reassuring touches, and using a calm tone of voice.
- Incorporate Humor
Humor can be a valuable tool to defuse tension and anger during conflicts. It provides a lighthearted way to express thoughts that might be challenging to convey otherwise. The key is to use humor in a way that fosters connection rather than belittling the other person. Laughter, when shared, can be a powerful bonding experience.
If you feel the need to improve your conflict resolution skills, remember that help is readily available. The team at Beverly Hills Therapy Group works with individuals, couples, and families daily, providing guidance and support in the art of conflict resolution.
To embark on a journey toward healthier, more harmonious relationships, don’t hesitate to reach out and request an appointment with us. Conflict may be inevitable, but with the right tools, it can be a stepping stone to deeper connection and personal growth.