Jan 09

Want Better Relationships? Unlock Your Conflict Management Toolbox

Do you avoid confrontation?

Many people do their best to avoid at any cost. Do you notice yourself doing this? If so, when you know that a confrontation is possibly coming your way, you probably start to feel a great deal of tension and worry. And after a confrontation, you are left with a huge pile of bad feelings. So it seems to make perfect sense to just try and avoid all situations where conflict is possible.

Not so fast… what if there were ways to change how you handle these situations. What if you could solve conflicts and in a way that would leave you feeling more comfortable and less upset? If that sounds like more fun to you, read on and discover five keys that will help you unlock your personal conflict management toolbox

It is important that you understand the definition of confrontation before you can learn to effectively manage it. According to the dictionary definition, confrontation is “discord that results from clashing ideas or opinions.” Confrontation is not simply a disagreement, it occurs when the people involved are viewing it as a “clash” that cannot be resolved.

The five keys

The first key–when trying to avoid confrontations–is that you should stop trying to avoid them. This might sound a little crazy at first, but think about it, is it really possible to avoid confrontation altogether? Well maybe if you sat in a cave and never talk to anyone, but then you wouldn’t be reading this article. So if you want to dramatically reduce your anxiety about confrontation use key number one and stop trying to avoid conflict and confrontation.

The second key to is to rethink how you define confrontation. When you begin to understand that what you’re actually trying to avoid is judgment from others, not getting your way, or possibly losing a relationship that you value, then you’ll start to realize it is the outcome that you’re avoiding, not the confrontation itself.

When you constantly see confrontation as something to be avoided, you will remain in a state of fear that will stimulate the “fight or flight” reaction–minimizing your ability to come up with ideas to manage the situation effectively.

Try this definition of confrontation on for size “to bring face to face.” Meeting someone face to face, does not need to be a confrontation. Expecting that you may have a difference of opinion will help you relax and be able to resolve any differences that arise.

Now that you’ve stopped avoiding conflict and redefined it, you can also stop getting defensive, aggressive, or just running for the hills. Start by learning some creative ways to handle confrontation when it comes your way–ones that satisfy everyone involved.

Now for key number three, when you find yourself gearing up to avoid a confrontation, use your uncomfortable feelings as a signal to yourself, a warning of sorts that you need to stop and reflect on the situation. Think about the situation as an explorer would. There is always something worthy of discovery, something that remains untapped and could provide some precious knowledge and experience.

Believe in your ability to explore new things, like handling confrontation creatively. Be an explorer, and you will be thrilled to discover your new strategies and solutions.

Commit yourself to new discoveries-develop a mindset that allows you to think using new patterns and to create results that totally line up with what you value. When everyone involved is satisfied, then you have cooperative relationships and confrontation becomes a non-issue.

The fourth important key is to learn how to focus on values. Focus on everyone’s values, not just yours. Don’t focus on another person’s complaints, but instead try to focus on what their underlying values actually are.

When you are focused on discovering new ways of interacting–when you’re playing the role of explorer and navigate through the conversation–always stay focused on uncovering satisfying solutions. When you are committed to including what’s most important to everyone in your solutions, you will find that your relationships become much more satisfying.

If you let it, any confrontation can be seen as a treasure map–one that can guide you through the sea of discovery, leading you to new experiences. When you are persistent with your exploration of confrontation, you will find that these new discoveries provide you with clarity that helps negotiate any conflict or confrontation in a way that everyone can be satisfied.

The fifth and final key is that whenever someone says or does anything that might normally lead to a confrontation; the reason they said or did it reflects their own missing values in the situation and is not consciously intended to create a conflict.

If you stop and take the time to identify what they value in the situation–what’s important to them that’s missing–they’ll not only appreciate this gesture, but will be more open to hearing what’s important to you.

Sadly, most people are not readily able to identify what they value most. Most of us were not encouraged at a young age to pay attention to what we care about most or what we needed, nor did we expect that other people would care about our needs. Learning how to unlock your new personal conflict management toolbox takes patience and plenty of practice, but it can be accomplished. Stick with it–you really can find satisfying solutions that all parties in a relationship will be happy with.

With love,
Beth and Neill