Deal With Stress

5 Ways to Cope With Everyday Conflict

5 Ways to cope with everyday conflictWe’ve all experienced it. Perhaps you are on Facebook and find an irritating comment in your newsfeed, and you become embroiled in a heated argument. Maybe you are driving to work and find yourself in an altercation with an irate driver who seems hell-bent on killing themselves, you, and whoever else is in their way. Or maybe you find yourself dealing with a complaining customer who seems dead set on making your life miserable.

Whatever it is, conflicts like this can really take their toll. No matter how much you try to manage the situation with a zen-like calm, other people’s anger or hatred can still deeply affect you. Whereas you were feeling fine a minute before, an angry interaction can instantly throw you off. It’s as if the someone literally passed their bad mood on to you.

Although it’s impossible to prevent every misunderstanding and ugly situation, you can always control your reaction. If you find that you are frequently tangled up in conflicts with others, or that you are unable to brush off angry people or misunderstandings, give the following tips a look to improve on your conflict resolution skills.

Firstly, if you have no hope of ever encountering the person again, and the incident is over quickly, be kind to yourself and let it go. You gain nothing by prolonging the irritation. Think of it this way: the driver who cuts you off in traffic does it only for a few seconds and is gone. Don’t allow them to upset you further by holding onto that moment long after it has actually passed.

If you have done something to cause a misunderstanding, or you have made a mistake somewhere, own up to it immediately and turn your attention to mending the relationship as quickly as possible. You’ll be amazed at how quickly a situation can turn around with a sincere apology. Also, you’ll be the bigger person for owning up to your part of the disagreement.

Often, the best way to negotiate a conflict is to take a step back and wait for everyone to cool off. Emotional decisions made in the heat of the moment rarely help. End the discussion, take a breather and wait for the adrenaline to leave your body. Sleep on it, even. When you’re clear-headed again, tackle the problem with fresh eyes.

Ask yourself: is this actually worth it? If you find yourself butting heads with someone over an issue, getting more and more riled up, pause for a moment and consider what can be gained. Does it really matter if this person agrees with you? Is their agreement worth getting this upset about? If you have tried to communicate clearly and calmly, if you have tried your best to approach a dispute with a level head, and still can come to no resolution, know when to walk away. In most situations, the best outcome can be negotiated only when both parties are rational and respectful. If this is not possible, simply remove yourself from the situation.

Lastly, although this may be unpleasant, really consider what you may be doing to draw hostile reactions from the people around you. If conflict seems to be a constant occurrence, it may be time for some honest self-reflection. A counsellor, close friend or family member you trust can help you get to the bottom of your short fuse.

Ultimately, negotiating conflict is about priorities: decide that what is most important is your peace of mind, your good mood, your clean conscience. Make a commitment to yourself to protect that, regardless of others’ behaviour.

In the heat of conflict, try to have the presence of mind to ask – what is more important here? That I am right and this person is wrong, or that I am at peace and can get on with my day?

Sometimes, getting angry with someone and letting them have a big piece of your mind is just the right response. Every once in a while, you’ll have to stand your ground. But mostly, you’ll thank yourself for spotting a hopeless situation and removing yourself from it before it disrupts your peace of mind.

By Lyndsay Wilson

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