The first thing to understand about conflict is that it's okay. It's a normal, natural part of life. Conflict is the birthplace of freedom, innovation & change. Conflict helps us better understand ourselves, and invites us to grow and to understand others.
How we respond to conflict shows our character, shapes our outcomes, and defines our relationships. In fact, how we respond to conflict is one of the primary ways that each of us shape our lives. Conflict can open you up to experiencing more of the richness of life, or it can wither and close you. It can bring you closer to people, or it can distance you from others.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself the next time that you have the opportunity to respond to conflict:
Why am I triggered?
The first step to navigate conflict successfully is understanding yourself. Anytime you find yourself triggered, it is an invitation for you to get to know yourself deeper. Taking the time to investigate your feelings will help you understand exactly why you are upset. This is the stage in conflict where you can get to know yourself better. Being able to understand yourself clearly will help you resolve the conflict at hand.
Am I curious about you?
The second step to navigating conflict is being curious about the other person. Each of us operates from our own (very unique) 'story' about the world and the way things work. When you are able to understand the situation from another's point of view, it will help get you closer to a resolution that will work for both of you. Remember, understanding another person's perspective doesn't mean that you have to give up your own.
Am I being the way I want you to be?
This is a big one. It's so easy to wait for the other person to change so that we can be happy. I hear these kind of things all the time; "he should apologize first, she should be the one showing me love first, he needs to be the good neighbor first, she should be the one to come to me first", etc. If you are waiting for someone to do some specific action you've set out for them in your mind; you might want to double check that you are doing the exact behavior that you are expecting from them.
What do I want for you? for me? for this relationship?
Being clear on what you want for yourself, what you want for the other person, and what you want for the relationship is key to solving conflict. So many times we are hijacked by our emotions that we say we want one thing and then we do an action that is guaranteed to take us further from what we want! For example, we say we want to be closer to our neighbor, but then we get angry about something they did, and we post a nasty story about it on Facebook. Or, we say we want to have a more trusting, intimate relationship with our spouse, and then our feelings are hurt so we make a snide comment to cut them down. Aligning what you want with the actions you take (and not being a slave to your emotions) will transform conflict in your life. Note: if you think something like "Well I want the other person to suffer until they know how much they hurt me" - go back to step one .
What action can I take to get what I want for you, me, & this relationship?
Now here is the final step: action. This is your opportunity to manage your emotions, and choose the path that will get you more of what you ultimately want. This is a time for you to align yourself with the person you really want to be. You get choose how to respond rather than just reacting.
You can choose to allow conflict to open you up, or let it close you down in fear of further pain.
Mindy Amita Aisling
ICF Life Coach,
NFPT Fitness Trainer,
OMA Certified Mediator
Mindy Aisling is a certified life and business coach in Bend, OR, exceeding all of the educational requirements & training set forth by the ICF.
She has worked with such organizations as St. Charles Hospital, Soroptimists, The Dispute Resolution Center, Olympic Medical Center, Americorps, and Juvenile and Family Services.
She has been featured in the New York Times, The Seattle Times, The Bend Bulletin, The Peninsula Daily News, KOMO 4 TV, The Oregonian and many more. You can learn more about Mindy here.
Mindy offers professional, affordable online coaching to clients around the world, and local coaching to clients in Bend, Oregon.
Licensed and Insured