Do you hate conflict? That’s normal, but you can learn how to manage it better if you know how to resolve it. Any time you run into conflict situations, it’s usually very unpleasant. There are accompanying anxiety and tension during moments of conflict that most of us would rather just avoid.

The problem is, you’ll never be able to avoid conflict completely. It will always exist whether it is a serious workplace conflict or even something small like who gets the last cookie.

The important thing is to learn the tools that will help resolve situations of conflict in your daily life so they don’t have to spiral out of control. This article will look at 4 types of conflict situations and ways you can resolve them.

Different Conflict Situations You May Find Yourself In

Why is conflict so difficult? There are some people who seem to thrive off of it, but if you’re like the average person, it’s probably something you’d rather avoid. Situations of conflict can bring the worst out of people and turn regularly nice individuals into monsters.

The first thing is changing your approach to conflict. For many, the word conflict brings up imagery of a battle or war between two people. We can think of it as an extremely ugly situation with no good resolve. It’s time to change this view if you are going to resolve it. You need to remember that conflict starts small and then grows out of control to the point it feels like warfare.

Thinking of conflict as a smaller little issue can help you deal with it head-on. Reminding yourself that at its core, the conflict can be about an insignificant issue can give it less power over you. Here are some conflict situations you’re most likely to encounter:

1. Miscommunication

Most conflict in life will usually come down to some form of miscommunication. Either you haven’t been able to share what you intended or there was a neglect to do so. In either case, what’s not being said is what’s really causing the conflict.

To avoid a majority of conflict, clear and complete messages need to be given and received. There are simple ways to resolve this such as making sure you get to express everything you need to share. You also need to be a willing listener so that you’re getting all the information.

It may help to write down on paper, or in an email, everything you want to say so nothing is forgotten. It also helps to save any forms of communication whether it’s email, texts, or voice messages. That way, you can go back to access the messages to see where the miscommunication might be happening. In any situation, just being honest can help avoid any of the problems that come from miscommunication.

2. Relationship Conflict

Communication and relationships go hand-in-hand. Life is all about relationships, and they all need work if they are to run smoothly. Every conflict you have will be from some form of relationship whether it be personal, professional, or even any small interaction.

The conflict will usually arise because of differences in personality. In a work setting, you can often be paired with people you wouldn’t choose to be friends with in another situation. You may not have any good rapport or common interests – but you still have to work together.

A way to resolve a relationship conflict is to engage with the individual on a personal level. If it’s someone close, you can bring up the source of the tension and focus on listening to their side. Since you are close, they should feel comfortable opening up to you.

If it’s in a professional setting, it could mean getting to know that person better to find some common ground. Invite them out for coffee and see if you can find some shared interests. Growing the relationship can make it easier to address and resolve the conflict with them.

This approach is also helpful instead of going to a manager or people higher up. This may make the problem bigger than it needed to be.

3. Value Conflict

This is a tough type of conflict situation, as now we are looking at the fundamental differences between two people. Value conflict is when there is a conflict because of belief, identities, or core values. Common value conflict can arise over politics, religion, ethics or any fundamental belief.

A big problem with conflict situations like this is that it is frowned upon to even have discussions about it. Politics and religion are encouraged not to be discussed, as finding a resolution is often impossible. If you face this scenario, it will again come down to communication.

Ideally, you are engaged with someone who will share a dialogue. If not, then it’s probably best to walk away. If they will discuss the difference between you, it’s important to be an active listener. It’s not that you have to agree with them, but you need to develop an understanding of where they are coming from.

The ideal solution is that you find some other common ground to which you can build a foundation and move past your conflict. You and a coworker may differ severely regarding politics but might have kids the same age experiencing the same things. You and acquaintance may have a conflict over religious issues, but you grew up in the same town.

The goal for a solution is to find a commonality between you that can now be the basis of your relationship – instead of it being based on your conflict.

4. Personal vs Societal Conflict

The first three examples look at a person vs person conflict. But one of the big conflict situations you may find yourself in is when you may have a problem with societal norms, beliefs, or laws. This is an external conflict when you are going against the grain on certain views that a particular society may have. There can be many examples of this such as:

  • Environmental beliefs
  • Conflict over nutrition (vegans vs meat eaters etc.)
  • Segregation
  • Racism
  • Being wrongly accused of something

This comes down to thinking that the world is against you and that no one sees things the way you do. It can become a “one against many” situation. A famous example of this is Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat for a white person while riding a bus. This was her stand against segregation and one of the ultimate conflict situations.

The resolution for this type of conflict takes a massive amount of work. It involves finding your voice and spreading your message. It’s about creating movements and change. This doesn’t mean it has to be world-changing; it could be on a smaller local level. But it will always be a challenge or uphill battle. This type of conflict resolution is what leads to change – and can be the most rewarding.

Final Thoughts

There are many conflict situations you will find yourself in on a daily level. The secret is to recognize that all conflict starts with something small. When you recognize this, it can make the resolution more manageable. Most of the conflict we encounter comes down to communication and relationships.

Remembering to be open and clear – and making sure other people feel heard – will be at the core of resolving conflict. This way it won’t grow out of control into something that may not be resolvable.

References:

Jamie Logie, B.Sc.

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