I can’t remember how many times I’ve heard someone say, “I don’t like conflicts” to avoid discussing issues or problems that they have with others. When I hear this I always wonder, “Who enjoys conflicts?” The word “conflict” reminds me playground fights and TV courtroom dramas. Perhaps a better way of stating what you mean would be to say, “I don’t like disagreements.” A conflict is more than a disagreement. A conflict occurs when either or both parties feel threatened and that’s never necessary. Disagreements on the other hand can result in better relationships, a mutual understanding and maybe even a gift if you play your cards right.
There are several ways to prevent disagreements from escalating into a full blown argument, but it’s a give and take. Both parties need to be willing to make an effort in discussing the problem at hand or it won’t work. Many tips are offered on how to handle discrepancies, but I’ll list the ones I find most beneficial and have worked for me.
1. Stay focused
It’s easy to get off track when you’re talking about your problems. One minute you’re asking your roommate to please put her dishes in the dishwasher and the next thing you know you’re blaming her and her loud Taylor Swift music for why you failed your last test. But it’s important to keep yourself on track. Focus on the current problem because the more you bring up, the more convoluted and clouded your message will be.
2. Admit your faults
Take responsibility for your faults. Acknowledge that it’s not one-sided and take personal responsibility for any mistakes you may have made. It never hurts to say “I’m sorry” and it sets a good example for how the other party should handle their faults.
3. No, you shut up
Shouting is not only unconstructive but it makes it difficult to understand what the other is saying. Alternate between talking and listening so that both of you gets a chance to state your point. Sometimes disagreements don’t need to have a right and a wrong. The other party just simply needs to express his/her opinions. And try not to say “shut up” because the next thing you know you’ll be shouting a slew of much worse words.
4. It’s not always black and white
Being right or winning shouldn’t be the dominating factor when discussing problems. Understand that the other party may never see it from your side and vice versa because there is no viable way to impose your opinions on others. Sometimes the best idea is to agree-to-disagree (as corny as that sounds).
5. Call a time-out
If you’re anything like me, this is the hardest tip to grasp. I’m impatient and I want things done now, but I’ve learned that a time-out isn’t avoiding the problem. Instead, it allows both parties to take a break and come back to it later with a calmer attitude. The break allows for both parties to think about what was said and where to go.