Throughout our day-to-day lives, we have a wide array of different interactions with both people in our everyday lives and with those we just come across briefly or in passing. Interpersonal relationships are the relationships we have with one or more people on any level, whether that be in the workplace, in a romantic way, or a platonic way. Sometimes in these relationships, conflicts will naturally arise and create a disruption in the peace between you and them. These conflicts occur when at least two people cannot see eye-to-eye in a certain scenario, which might lead to heavy disagreements and even arguments. If you desire to keep the peace in your relationships and solve these conflicts in a healthy manner, it’s important to know constructive conflict resolution techniques that will be useful in a variety of scenarios you may encounter. Every situation and person is different, of course, but we have created a useful outline regarding how to handle conflicts and resolve them before things escalate too far in your interpersonal relationships.
Gain an Understanding of the Conflict at Hand
First and foremost, it’s necessary to ensure that both you and the person there is a conflict with have a clear understanding of what the true conflict at hand is. Many times, conflicts are sheer misunderstandings or miscommunications, and a clear and level-headed conversation is all that is needed to get back onto the same page. Other times, there may be a more serious conflict, such as a friend betraying your trust or a coworker not fulfilling their responsibilities. Everyone involved needs to know that there is a conflict that needs resolving, because being passive aggressive or secretly angry with another person will not end up helping the situation.
When there is a specific conflict that needs to be resolved, the next step is to create a safe, neutral space so that effective communication can take place. If one of you is ambushed or caught off guard in any way, this will only make the conflict at hand worse and make the resolution of it more difficult. When everyone is in a calm and collected mindset, this is the best time to lay everything out and communicate where the disagreements are stemming from. Try your very best to stay intentionally calm and to not lash out, because this will likely lead to the other person feeling attacked and the need to become defensive. Effective communication is not always an easy skill to hone, and many of us are learning how to master this ability throughout our lives.
Work to See Their Perspective
Conflict arises because at least two people cannot see eye-to-eye, and it is very easy to get caught up in your own belief system and why you feel as though your perspective is the correct one. Depending on the situation, there is likely room for both of you to take a step back and come at the issue from the other person’s perspective to the best of your ability. This is not always the easiest thing to do, but it’s an important step if you truly want to resolve whatever is wrong. This is especially valuable in more intimate interpersonal relationships, such as when you are in a conflict with your significant other. It’s vital to remember that your perspectives and beliefs are not the only ones to exist in these cases and to try and see the whole picture through a different lens.
Compromise Where You Can
If you and the individual(s) truly have the aim to resolve the conflict at hand, you should work to come to a compromise if doing so makes sense. Finding a middle ground is helpful so that everyone involved can feel like their voice has really been heard and taken into account. If there is a conflict at your job regarding the workload that you are expected to cover versus your coworker that is your equal who has a fraction of what you have, working together to come to a potential compromise is ideal. You may come to the agreement that it’s fair they share some of the workload with you after there is communication and a sense of deeper understanding about this conflict. True compromise is really the key in any type of interpersonal relationship.
Let There Be a Conclusion
Once the necessary steps have been followed in working through any conflicts that have surfaced in your interpersonal relationships, it is time to come to a solid conclusion and to put everything to rest. Sometimes after there has been a rough conflict, things might seem like they have cooled down but one or both of you is actually still holding onto a lot of resentment toward one another and the situation. Ensure that a concrete resolution has been settled on after following all these steps so that you can move forward in harmony and with a more profound consideration for one another. While no one necessarily wants there to be conflict in the first place, engaging in each of these steps will help provide a greater comprehension of the other person and their stance on certain things. Ideally, having to deal with conflict will also allow you to more comfortably open up and discuss different matters with them, as well.
With all of the differing opinions, thought processes, desires, and perspectives that each unique individual has, there are bound to be times where we bump heads with those we have interpersonal relationships with. Taking the time and putting in the effort to learn how to face conflicts and resolve them in a healthy, mature way is always a beneficial skill to obtain within our lives. Resolving conflicts in interpersonal relationships in this way ensures you and everyone involved a more significant sense of peace that you sincerely cannot put a price on.
Dr. Messina & Associates specialize in anxiety and depression in children, adolescents, and adults and continue to provide psychological and psychiatric services in-person and online.