Conflict is an inevitable and natural part of our relationships. Unfortunately, though, many of us buckle under the stress of conflict because we have not yet acquired the skill of approaching conflict with creative thinking. For many of us, our reactions to conflict are driven by fear and anxiety. When we learn to approach conflict creatively, we promote growth, healing, and acceptance and breathe independence, trust, and integrity into our relationships.
Rather than perpetuate anxiety, conflict between two people can be grounds for emotional growth, whether the situation is resolved or not. As we strengthen our EQ, we become more apt at handling arguments in constructive ways. A strong EQ allows us to act independently of our habitual behaviors and to remain in control of ourselves, decreasing the risk of emotional outbursts and of attacking the other person. It also allows us to see ourselves less as victims and more as creative problem-solvers.
The following tips can help you consistently resolve conflict in ways that build trust between individuals and strengthen relationships:
Stay present: When we release old hurts and resentments, we are free to recognize the reality of a current situation and to view it as a new opportunity for resolving stale conflicts. Releasing the past allows us to refashion your attitudes and to reestablish new and more positive connections with others. It also helps us to recognize what we are able to control in a given situation and what is out of our hands.
Forgive: We cannot control other people’s hurtful behavior, but we can control the power it has over our present thoughts and actions. By forgiving those who have hurt us, we release the urge to punish and thereby free ourselves to experience more positive and beneficial emotions in the present. Furthermore, when we forgive others for their faults, we acknowledge our shared humanity and can therefore also forgive ourselves for times we’ve behaved in less-than-ideal ways. Forgiveness allows us to establish healthy boundaries, release tension, and communicate honestly, all of which builds trust in relationships and promotes individual emotional independence.
Choose arguments wisely: Consider your arguments before you lash out. Remember that play, creativity, and humor help to diffuse potentially hairy situations and to direct the flow of communication. By choosing your arguments, you signify what issues are most valuable to you and therefore establish yourself as an effective, trust-worthy communicator.
“Agree to disagree”: You have the power to choose to disengage from a conflict and to release the need to be “right”. When you “agree to disagree,” you have the opportunity to remove yourself from an argument with grace and maturity. You also signify to the other person that you value their thoughts, opinions, and personhood and that you honor their individuality, as well as your own. Choosing to gently fold up a conflict that can’t be resolved frees you to enjoy each others’ company and to focus on the things that really matter in your life.