When you truly love and care for someone, whether a friend, a family member, or a significant other, there’s almost bound to be some conflict. It’s human nature. But it’s how we handle these conflicts that reflects most on who we are and the type of relationships we have. How do we navigate conflict without getting heated or being inflammatory? How can we talk about issues and resolve them so that we can move on from them? Here are some tips for handling conflicts with the people you care about.
Take a Breath
It’s easy to get so wrapped up in your flurry of thoughts that you lose sight of reality. Suddenly, your best friend is a monster who has gone out of their way to hurt you. Or your partner must be cheating, because why else would they be so distant and distracted? But is this reality? In most cases, the answer is no. Unfortunately, our brains love to self-sabotage. Instead of acting on instinct, take a step back. Let yourself ponder the true weight of the scenario. Will it matter in a month? A year? If the answer is no, proceed with extra caution.
Avoid Placing Blame
You have to set boundaries in relationships, and this includes addressing the words and actions that hurt you. But there is a formula to doing this the right way: Focus on “I” rather than “you.” Lead with your feelings, then explain the action that has caused you to feel that way. Be particularly careful not to place blame. Instead, acknowledge that you do not think the person has acted purposefully. Reassure them that you are only addressing the topic to strengthen your bond and avoid future conflicts.
Wear Their Shoes
Try to examine an issue from the other person’s point of view. Maybe it was a harmless mix-up or a temporary lapse in judgment. We all make mistakes. Be sure to keep in mind the best way to communicate with this person. Approach them in this manner to avoid making them feel uncomfortable.
In resolving any conflict with a loved one, it is important to restate the value you place on the person and your relationship with them. It softens the blow to hear, “I only bring this up because I care about you, and I want to keep you in my life.” Let the person know that you harbor no resentment, and you hope that you both come out stronger having addressed the issue.
Navigating conflict is tricky. Use these tips to avoid misstepping into emotionally charged territory and to strengthen your relationships. Remember: Addressing conflict in meaningful relationships is healthy! You should never ignore conflict just because you are scared it could end in a fight.