Who really wants to have a bunch of unresolved issues clogging up their business? Let's face it, no matter how much of a stoic you are, having open conflict in your life can be draining. Especially if it involves family or friends.
And while I advocate for standing up for yourself and sharing your feelings, if it leads to a longstanding beef, that's no good.
You gotta clear that BS and move on!
Conflict is Inevitable. So What To Do?
So what should you do when conflict eventually impacts your life? I think you should do what you can to ensure that small miscommunications don’t become ongoing sagas. These situations are huge drains on your personal energy— and on your time.
Let’s talk about how you can take responsibility and manage conflict here to today. (And remember, if you feel like to need extra help managing your mental health due to a conflict in your life, there are professionals who can help you do it.)
1. INTEND TO MOVE ON
The first thing to do is to have the intention to move on. Acknowledge that you don’t want this conflict to be part of your life. It’s an “energy leak” that you don’t need around.
Now set the intention that you want the conflict to end. Set the intention that you want to move on in a clear way. You want to release the excess baggage this conflict is causing in your life.
Congrats, you’ve taken the first step.
Forgive the other person for their role in the conflict. This isn’t always an easy step, but it’s a crucial step.
Understand that this is a vital component in getting past misunderstandings. Forgiving somebody means that you acknowledge their humanity. It also means that you are taking an active role in ending the conflict.
This step need only involve you! You don’t need to be quick to tell the other, “I forgive you for what you did.” Especially if they are not explicitly asking for your forgiveness.
It’s about having personal acceptance and moving on.
You see, in this step you are actually taking the other person out of the equation and empowering yourself. You aren’t “granting” them forgiveness. You are taking the attitude of moving on and no longer punishing them for their role. You are taking the most crucial step to truly resolve the situation.
Want a great framework for working on forgiveness? The Hawaiian practice of Hoʻoponopono is a great practice. I’ve done it myself– it can get you on the road to positive reconciliation.
The next step is to establish or re-establish communication. Face it: there is no way to end a conflict without at least attempting to involve the other person.
When possible, a face-to-face meeting is always more effective. But if you need to do it by phone, do that. Email or text is easy, but it is also more impersonal. But use your own judgment. If you need to reach out via text to set up something more personal like a call or face-to-face meeting, do that.
This step can be very difficult, but it is necessary.
TAKING RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR FEELINGS
The important thing when you are attempting to move through a conflict is to share how you feel.
Here’s an example: “I felt angry after we spoke last night.”
By focusing on your own feelings (and not what the other person did to anger you), you are:
- accepting your own role
- taking responsibility for how you feel
- empowering yourself to own your response to the situation
At this point, the proverbial ball is in the other person’s court. The hope is that they follow your lead and share their own feelings. In a constructive and non-confrontational way.
But it doesn’t always happen this way! That’s why taking responsibility for your own feelings is so key. You’ve done what you can to own the situation. So even if the other person responds with blame or defensiveness, you are moving forward.
Do your best to avoid the following:
- Blaming the other person for your feelings
- Roping people into the conflict who have no part in it
- Getting defensive about your role in the conflict
- Interrupting when they try to share their feelings.
The main thing here is to take responsibility for yourself and to own your own thoughts and feelings. Remind yourself that the other person is just another “you”. They are trying to navigate the conflict as well. Put yourself in their position, and have patience with them— and with yourself.
This advice is based on the author’s personal experience. Use your own judgment and wisdom in your life. If you are experiencing mental health challenges, consult a trained professional— getting help is cool.