Quarrels happen, and few people like dealing with conflict.
However, it takes all sorts to make the world. Each person has different priorities, needs, and agendas. It is almost unavoidable that we have brushes with each other.
Therefore, it’s important to sort out misunderstandings when they arise. The aim is to balance everyone’s needs and concerns. A person who is mentally tough does this with a few research-based strategies.
Dealing with conflict: Causes
Conflicts are not overwhelming when you know their triggers. They help you see how avoidable they are.
First of all, people often squabble over resources. Why? There aren’t enough of them, of course. Everyone, from neighbors to co-workers, becomes frantic when there is a lack or uneven distribution of necessities.
People come to blows because they do things differently from each other. The quarrels worsen when each party refuses to compromise.
Another cause of conflict is misinterpreting intentions or having different understandings of concepts. Diverging views often lead to heated debates.
4. Differing goals
You’ll find this scenario familiar. Perhaps you’ve quarreled with your spouse because the two of you have different goals in life.
Maybe you want to live in a high-rise condo while your partner prefers living in an older, low-rise apartment to save costs.
Conflicting stressors are common causes of workplace blows. Boss A needs you to complete one assignment while Boss B wants your immediate help with another. The result? Tension.
6. Personal values
Finally, differences in personal values may cause clashes. Perhaps you feel strongly about punctuality, but your teenage son is lackadaisical. The two of you might quarrel when his lateness causes awkwardness in social situations.
As you know, dealing with conflict isn’t a task for the faint-hearted. Furthermore, what escalates quarrels is the way people respond to each other.
First of all is avoidance. People may joke or make attempts to avoid discussing sensitive topics. They may do this because they are uncomfortable. People also avoid conflicts when they don’t know enough about their contexts. The problem with this behavior is that issues might fester and go out of control.
Some people prefer to accommodate the wishes of others to avoid conflicts. Those who do this have the interests of peace and unity in mind. While this approach is prosocial, it is passive. Personal dissatisfaction might fester because they disregard their needs.
Some people start conflicts simply to prove they are right. They are assertive and usually seek to dominate over others, especially in win-lose situations. They tend to try to force others to accept their views.
Note that people who use force aren’t necessarily in the wrong. Perhaps they feel that being forceful is the only way to solve critical issues. That said, it isn’t particularly helpful because it fosters feelings of anger.
Dealing with Conflict the Way Mentally Strong People do
Conflicts involve emotions, but there are rational, science-backed ways to solve them. Two New Zealand researchers have developed six skills that can help ease tensions. Educational Research published their findings.
They tested their theories with 27 newly-appointed school leaders who took part in an 18-month induction program called the First-Time Principals program. The researchers rated them on how well they used the skills when role-playing with a female actor who ‘complained’ about a teacher.
The outcome of this research was that many principals advocated their viewpoints instead of inquiring into the concerns of the ‘parent.’ The researchers suggest that mentally tough people would use all six skills to resolve arguments.
1. Expressing point of view
First of all is the skill of expressing one’s point of view. The aim is to do so while considering the interests of both parties. The principals had to listen to the female ‘parent’, then explain their views. They had to give reasons for them.
2. Listening for Deep Understanding
The principals then had to listen carefully to the parent’s concerns. According to the researchers, doing this builds trust. It also shows respect for the other party and clarifies how each person has interpreted facts. Furthermore, it gives a people the tools they need to solve future conflicts.
3. Check understanding
Principals also had to find out if they had fully understood the ‘parent’s’ concerns. They had to decide if they were making faulty judgments because of their emotions. Emotional statements can lead to misunderstanding, according to the researchers, and prevent conflict resolution.
4. Reexamine point of view
The principals also had to reassess their viewpoints and look to improving outcomes. They had to remove personal biases, bearing in mind research that proves people selectively listen to confirm beliefs.
5. Reexamine point of view (the other party)
The principals then had to encourage the ‘parent’ to think over her point of view. In the same way, they had to get her to put personal biases aside.
Finally, everyone, ideally, should agree on further steps. Making real attempts to find solutions to problems solves conflicts and satisfies the interests of all parties.
Dealing with conflict isn’t always a walk in the park, but is easier with these research-based methods.