If you have been in a relationship, it is likely that you have experienced conflict. A friend, family member, partner, co-worker … the potential for conflict is everywhere, and your response has the ability to allow the relationship to flourish or wither.
How do we maintain our cool during stressful times in our relationships?
Don’t make assumptions. Isaac Asimov said, “Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.” If you can drop your assumptions and see things as they are, you will recognize that there are many possible solutions. “ There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”…. Leonard Cohen
Recognize that everyone has an opinion. As much as you think you are “right”, the other person may feel that same conviction. Is being “right” really that important? Will this situation even be remembered a year, a month or even a week from now? Acknowledge that other people have concerns that are very valid to them. Treat them with the same respect that you would like to receive.
While communicating about the problem, be sure to affirm the person rather than criticize. For every concern you have, think of a respectful quality of theirs to share. People are more likely to listen if they don’t feel like they are being beaten up. Soften the discussion.
Sometimes it is better to let the issue go or wait for 24 hours. Are one or both of you hungry or tired? Is there something else at play that is creating friction? Is there really a problem?
If this conflict is with a loved one, or a relationship that you truly care about, let them know that the relationship is more important than this problem. Acknowledge the strain that the issue is putting on you both.
Listen. Listen attentively. It is the basis of successful relationships. There is nothing more important to a person than to know that they are being truly heard. When you listen, not only can you learn something new, you can make people feel validated.
In the midst of a conflict, if you can stop and listen, this will create a wonderful space for clear, open and productive communication.