Conflicts are part of our growth, it can close your heart or open to closer intimacies with others. While I was growing up, I witnessed my parents fight and it scared me so much that I remembered shivering in the corner and felt so alone. As I relate with my partner I find this coping mechanism of avoidance and running away every time there was conflict. Unconsciously knowing that I’ve inherited this pattern of belief that conflict is related to fear and to avoid it will be a better solution than facing it. I became interested in how conflicts can affect us and what are the effects in our psyche, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects of our being. These are the interesting facts that I’ve learned while I was in a course called conflict resolution.
How I see conflict will affect the result of my relationships. This stems from my childhood and adult experiences, behavior and beliefs I have around and inside me. Ask questions to yourself how you see the world when there is a conflict? How do you handle conflict? What were your experiences from your early childhood regarding conflict? When a conflict arises what do I do and how do I feel? This will help you know where to start your transformation.
What is an interpersonal conflict? These are differences between two independent parties who perceive or are experiencing different goals or needs, processes or routes to a goal and interference in meeting their goals or needs. Possible sources: assumptions, beliefs, ego, expectations, goals, needs, power, roles, strategy, style and values.
Factors affecting conflict: It is influenced by many factors when there is a conflict we are looking at the level of relationships, the approach they are exhibiting, nature, context , power and the time that is available to determine whether the conflict escalates or de-escalates.
New view of conflict from perceiving conflict as always been a disruption of order, negative experience, battle, struggle between right and wrong, we can now see this with a positive outlook: Informs us that there is a problem, prevents escalation to more serious conflicts, clarifies needs, values and interests of involved parties, adjusts personal norms in relationships and organizations, creates the impetus to search for new facts, information, and solutions, shows the opportunity for creative both personally and organizationally, enhances group cohesion and performance and challenges us to manage our lives in ways that utilize our differences for mutual benefits.
Styles in dealing conflicts: There are different styles of coping or dealing with conflicts they are the avoiding, competing, collaborating and accommodating. In avoiding both parties lose because you are not able to express yourself and assert what your desires are. Competing is serving the ego, there is no right or wrong but truly having that communication open and allowing what unfolds from both parties with a common goal of understanding. Collaborating is a win-win situation because it helps the parties to serve with their best interest and harmonize the situation. The accommodating is a lose/win situation because there is no balance of giving and receiving energy. These styles can help you gauge what your style is and how you can shift into a better one.
The aspects of conversation: There is a collaborative approach to holding challenging conversations when you are aware of these three areas: Content is the “what ” of the conversation ( what we need to discuss and decide on) Process is the “how” we hold the conversation (including the place, timing, vocabulary, paraverbals and non-verbals) Emotion is the emotion and (how I feel about you and the subject matter)
Triggers: What are the triggers for you? Identify them and we can avoid pouring “gas on fire” by avoiding these triggers: interrupting, interrogating, using condescending tone of voice, lecturing, cutting them off prematurely, going too quickly to problem-solving, getting frustrated or angry, speaking too quickly, not speaking clearly and making assumptions or pre-judgements about the caller
Be aware of you self-talk when you in a conflict. These can be unconscious negative beliefs, patterns or conditions that you had developed right from the get go. the fight/flight, victim/martyr or self-doubt talk that will not help you face conflicts. Coping self-talk is supporting and problem-diagnosing: What’s the real problem here? this is upsetting but I can handle this, take a deep breath and plan what I need to say, I need to find what’s going on, I’ve got the skills to deal with this and stay curious.
Assertion versus aggressiveness? Assertiveness is about empowering you and it has the core intention to be clear about one’s needs and desires while communicating them in a respectful manner upholding the dignity of oneself and the other.
Beliefs underlying the assertion theory:
– I accept that my needs and desires are legitimate
– I accept people as they are
– I cannot change or control the reactions of others
– I am responsible for my actions, thoughts, and feelings
– Every person has the choice to be assertive, passive or aggressive, depending on the situation
– Assertiveness also means being sensitive to the needs of others.
– People are entitled to their own opinions and perspectives.
– Approaches conflict as a power struggle and tries to control and overpower others
– Discounts the feelings of others.
– Communicates using criticism, blaming, defensiveness and pressure
– Operates from a belief system of his or her own personal rights that are not balanced with rights of others.
– States opinions as facts and considers those who disagree to be wrong or stupid.
– Expects others to meet his or her needs and sees others at fault if they do not.
– Doesn’t evaluate own actions as part of the problem: blames others for problems.
Steps in healthy conflict resolution:
1. Acknowledge the problem.
2. Create a healthy space of mind and breath.
3. Check in with you physical reactions.
4. Listen, practice empathy.
5. Take turns when communicating.
6. Validate the other person’s feelings.
7. Practice assertiveness.
8. Have open gestures with open heart and mind.
9. Take the conflict as an opportunity to meet each other’s needs and goals.
10. Learn your lesson and remain curious!
Some notes are taken from Kerry Palmer