Conflict resolution is a skill everyone needs. Why? Because arguments are a natural part of life, even between best friends, close family members, and long-time co-workers. Realize that arguments are really just disagreements. So if you can find something to agree upon, you can engage in real conflict resolution.
Unfortunately, so many arguments focus on the past and attempt to blame by focusing on what and who should have done what. Even worse, when something goes wrong and you try to explain, the other person often interprets it as an excuse, which then extends the argument. The reason is that the other person thinks you are not being accountable. Rather than get defensive, ask yourself if what the person is saying is basically true. And if it is, simply say, “You’re right.”
Now you’ve found something you both can agree upon. And when you agree, you move forward instead of anchoring yourself in the argument. While this approach may feel difficult and against your natural desire to be right, the fact is that it moves the discussion to focus on the future and what can be done. Think of it as conflict resolution at its finest.
Realize that it’s okay to evaluate the past in order to see what went wrong, but then both parties need to move to develop a procedure so that you won’t repeat the situation. The key is to concentrate on construction—on what will be done and how it will be handled the next time.
No matter what the disagreement is, your goal is to defuse the argument and come to agreement by focusing on conflict resolution. Continued arguing just to “be right” only fuels hostility and diminishes healthy communication. Prolonged arguments rarely focus on solutions, and reasoning with someone who is upset is futile.
How have you constructively handled arguments with family, friends, and co-workers in the past? Which conflict resolution strategies worked for you? Please share your experiences on the Without Stress Tips Facebook page.