There are a few things in life we’ve come to expect; the sun and moon coming out, different time zones between countries… To name a few. There’s another I haven’t mentioned, and that’s the one I want to focus on in today’s post. And that is expecting that we won’t always agree with everyone we meet.
It would actually be crazy, or at least naive, for us to think we’d agree with every opinion from everyone we come in contact with.The thing is, disagreeing isn’t the actual problem. Where things often get messy is how we respond to these disagreements. We all have our own unique ways of resolving conflict.
What we see and experience in our formative years is what shapes us in our adult lives. This is the same with how we decide how to handle conflict, we pick these things up from family; from friends and those of influence in lives as we grow up.
We mostly respond in one of two ways. Either becoming aggressive, or just giving others’ needs priority over our own. These never resolve the issue. So, what can we do to resolve conflict?
A way I’ve found that seems to be the most helpful, is being more assertive during the conflict. I don’t mean you controlling the discussion. But rather, create a space where you can express your thoughts, your needs, your emotions. And also allow the other person to do the same.Then you negotiate a middle ground that is suitable for both parties.
A clear example that comes to mind, was with a recent conflict I had with a friend. This friend (Lorena) expected me to meet up with her after work on a particular day, even though she never mentioned it to me previously, and then got mad when I said I couldn’t make it.
I’ll start from the beginning.
It was the end of the first day at a new job and Lorena sent me a lovely message. She asked how my day had gone, the time I’d left the house to get to work early, how long it had taken me to back home from work, if my colleagues were nice… You know, all the right questions. It made me feel special that someone cared enough to ask.
Now fast forward to the middle of week two at said job and Lorena asked if I’d meet up with her on the Friday. Naturally I said no, because I didn’t think I’d get there in time because of the rush hour traffic.And then her messages slowed down. I had to push for every reply I got. But I didn’t think anything was wrong, I just thought she was probably busy or something. You know?! Until I asked her something and her reply was
“Bee, I’m trying to be mad at you here!”And I said what?! But I took control of the situation and I called her immediately to find out what I had done.
It was hard to remain calm as I listened to Lorena explain how her “checking up” on me and my new job, was to help her gauge if I’d be able to meet up with her. And that somewhere hidden in her “how long does it take you to get back home?”, was her initial question for us to meet up the following week!!
Honestly, I tried to make sure the whole thing didn’t escalate. I actively listened to her as she explained herself and then, with a calm tone, I explained why asking someone general questions about their day doesn’t result in you asking them to make a specific plan with you.
And the last thing I did to resolve this was to compromise. I offered to consciously time myself after work so I could let her know the exact time I could meet with her.
Well the moral of the story is I stayed calm, I compromised and we still met up that Friday.
The most important thing in resolving conflict is to remain calm. Address everything calmly and speak with a calm tone. This eliminates frustration and anger, and it means everyone is more likely to focus on compromising.