Conflict is a normal part of life, and while it is definitely uncomfortable, it doesn’t have to be a negative thing. It can be an opportunity for personal spiritual and emotional growth as well as for strengthening the relationship it is occurring within.
What exactly is conflict? Conflict appears when our needs, opinions or perceptions clash with someone else’s needs, opinions or perceptions. Our ego becomes threatened, and we try to protect what we believe to be right and wrong, our opinion about what should happen next or our sense of entitlement to get what we want.
Many times this feels to us like a personal attack. Many of us develop responses to these attacks as children – this is simply the ego attempting to keep us safe. So then even as adults, our natural instinct may be to attack, to run, or to stick our head in the sand and ignore it.
These responses feel comfortable to us because that is what we know; but, at the same time they are not a positive experience.
This really isn’t an unusual response to conflict – most people would rather not deal with it. However, the benefits can be dramatic. So what are some things we can do to at least handle conflict more skillfully, so that both partners consider it a “Win”; and even better, we experience a strengthening in our spiritual and emotional growth?
Practical tips for dealing with conflict with family members, friends and co-workers, including the following:
1. Focus on the positive.
There is usually a benefit that can be found in this conflict – the “silver lining” so to speak. It may clear the air of confusion or incorrect expectations; it can also help you determine clearly the next steps that need to occur.
2. Find something that you both agree on.
You might think there isn’t anything, but there is. It might be a small part of what’s going on, but it’s there. Make sure to find it.
3. Take ownership of your part in the conflict.
Most likely there is a part of the conflict that is yours; it’s highly unlikely that there is no part of this that you can be accountable for – own up to it.
4. Active Listening
This is probably the toughest step. Much has been written on how to do active listening. The bottom line is to truly listen to the other person while keeping you mind open and without judgment or thoughts of what you are going to say next.
5. Express Needs.
Conflict is usually occurring because perceived needs are not met. It is important that each party lay these needs out on the table so that there is transparency and understanding of what each person needs.
6. Reach Understanding.
Once the above steps have been done, it will be much clearer how to proceed. By this point, often a solution has already come to the surface or at least the next step can be agreed upon.
In a romantic relationship, conflict can lead to divorce. Between political factions, differences can lead to war. But when these conflicts are openly acknowledged and addressed, it can be a powerful catalyst for growth and healing and can lead to creative solutions that deepen intimacy and strengthen bonds between people.
WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE OR WEB SITE? You may, as long as you commit to leave all of the links active, do not edit the article in any way, and include the following byline: This article was written by Patricia Selmo, an ordained Interfaith Minister, certified life coach, spiritual healer, teacher and guide. She is owner of The Blissful Soul, an organization dedicated to healing and helping people live in peace and joy with themselves and others: www.TheBlissfulSoul.com.