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It’s your normal, evening routine. The kids are in bed and the TV is on. But tonight, you notice that your husband or wife seems a bit quieter than usual.
“Honey, is everything okay?” you ask, feeling an argument brewing.
You hear “No,” after a moment of silence. “I still can’t believe what you said last night. You’re so insensitive. Why don’t you just listen to what I say?”
You’re taken aback by what is said. Me, insensitive? You’re the one who shoves my mistakes back in my face, you think.
In that moment, you’re faced with a choice of how to deal with the conflict.
We’ve all been in this type of situation. We’ve disagreed with, been hurt by, or felt angry with someone, which in turn has caused a conflict. Each time these little conflicts spring up, we can struggle to handle them well. After all, our “inner lawyer” is all too quick to defend us from perceived attacks.
Especially if you have a short temper, dealing with conflict graciously is a daunting, yet worthwhile challenge. The way you treat those around you impacts your relationships, career, and even your wellbeing, so treating people kindly – even during a conflict – can change everything.
So, how do you deal with conflict graciously?
You must be willing to change. And here’s how…
1. Change the way you see
The next time you face confrontation, step out of your own shoes. Analyze the situation objectively, which will allow you to truly see both sides of the story.
Ask yourself a few important questions. Why is the other person upset? What could you possibly have done to offend them or make them feel as if they were wronged or attacked? Is there any merit to their sentiment?
Remember, most people rarely lash out without feeling justified to do so. Seek to see the situation from the other person’s point of view. When you discover the reason why you're being approached so hastily, you can figure out how to diffuse the conflict.
2. Change the way you understand
Sometimes, all someone needs in order to calm down is to feel like they're being heard and understood. Say something that communicates that they have the right to feel as they do, but don’t throw yourself under the bus by taking full responsibility for the conflict.
Say something that shows you care about what the person has to say. Before you explain
your side of the story, first find common ground and seek to understand their reasoning. Ask why they feel the way they do and listen without judgment. Even though it may be tempting to escalate the conflict immediately if the other person is wrongly accusing you, it is wiser to wait until they are done saying their piece before presenting your defense in truth and love.
Changing the way you understand the person and situation will help you to achieve a mutually satisfying solution to the problem.
3. Change the way you place blame
Keep yourself from pointing fingers by remembering that it takes two people to have a conflict. It has been said that a coward’s way to liberation is playing the “blame game,” so take responsibility for your part of the problem. In doing so, you’ll shift the focus from harboring bitterness to brainstorming solutions.
4. Change the way you react
The easiest way to blow a conflict out of proportion is to act in anger. Keep your cool by keeping your voice low, your words under control, and your arms at your sides. By viewing the other person as your teammate against the problem, you can more efficiently attack that problem rather than one another.
Being proud of your reaction to a situation is a sign that you’ve dealt with conflict graciously. If you think you'll be embarrassed looking back at your moment-by-moment reaction, it's best to choose a different, calmer approach to communication.
5. Change the way you solve
Lastly, the most respectful thing you can do to solve conflict is seek an amicable outcome for both parties involved. Take a step back, analyze the situation with fresh eyes, and figure out a solution that satisfies both you and the other person.
While dealing with conflict graciously is a skill that takes practice to develop, the effort you invest is worth it. When you have a humble demeanor, a compassion for others, and a focus on a solution or compromise, you can diffuse conflict in a way that brings a feeling of victory – not defeat – for both you and the other person.