Unhealthy Reactions to Conflict
- Responding in an explosive, irritated, cruel, or resentful way
- Holding a grudge
- Expecting a bad outcome
- Fearing and avoiding conflicts
- Recognizing and responding to central concerns
- A willingness to forgive and forget
- Seeking compromise
- Believing that both parties can benefit from resolving the conflict
Manage Your Stress
- It is important to avoid panicking in tense situations. If you are not in control of yourself, your emotions might get out of hand. The quickest way to relieve stress is to focus on your sensory experience in the here and now—what you see, hear, smell, taste, and touch—and take deep breaths.
- Become aware of your emotions in tense situations and allow yourself to feel anger, sadness, fear, etc. without judgment. But, once you recognize these feelings, focus on finding a solution to the conflict that is rational and relaxed. This will allow you to effectively communicate how and why you are experiencing such strong emotions surrounding the circumstances.
- Pay attention when the other person is speaking and identify what his/her reason is for being upset. Then, repeat back what you heard to be sure you understood him/her clearly. Ask questions to avoid making assumptions and express appreciation for his/her communication, even if you disagree with what he/she said.
- Our eye contact, facial expressions, tone of voice, posture, and gestures convey vital information during disagreements. It is important that we are aware of the signals we are sending, even when we aren’t speaking words. When in conflict with someone else, being able to read his/her nonverbal cues is essential to figure out how he/she really feels about the situation. This awareness helps us to respond in a respectful way so that trust can be built.
Conflict Resolution Steps
- Agree that both parties are willing to talk about the problem and set rules (i.e. no name-calling, blaming, yelling, etc.).
- Listen to all perspectives, without interruptions. Then, ask clarifying questions and take turns repeating back what each participant shared.
- Discuss the importance of the issues at hand and why each person feels strongly about them. Notice any common interests on which both parties agree.
- Brainstorm possible solutions that both parties can feel good about without committing to something.
- Evaluate the proposed options to negotiate a compromise.
- State an agreement and write it down if necessary. Revisit the agreement to check progress.
Conflict Resolution Skills. (2016). Counseling and Resource Center. Lynnwood, WA: Edmonds Community College. <www.edcc.edu/counseling/documents/Conflict.pdf>.
National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center. (2002). Facts for Teens: Conflict Resolution. Rockville, MD: Safe Youth. <https://web.njit.edu/~lipuma/Conflict.pdf>.