Sometime ago, I was asked to deliver management training to a team in a local school here in Auckland NZ. The principal was having a problem with her deputy principal and staff getting along together. There was a bit of conflict happening. I’ve alway thought of conflict as being natural – even healthy when used for personal growth and improving our relationships. It is HOW we usually deal with it that is NOT healthy. Being a trained facilitator there have been many times where I’ve experienced a group of people letting their anger out – better out than in, I say. 

Whether you are a teacher, manager, partner, parent, step dad or mum, we have all had conversations that went the wrong way and left us or the other person feeling angry and upset. Conflict happens to everyone – even in very happy and healthy relationships!

In fact, everywhere there are different people there is bound to be differing opinions and attitudes in families – and those differences are what creates conflict. After all, two people can’t be expected to agree on everything, or see things the same way, especially when each has a different personality style, each with different needs, emotions and fears.  It’s our opposites that attract… and cause the differences, right!

Learning how to deal with conflict, rather than avoiding it, is crucial. When conflict is mismanaged in families, it can cause great harm to relationships. However when handled in a respectful, positive way, conflict provides an opportunity to strengthen the bond between two people. As a resource for the individuals I worked with I wrote a book called 50 Ways to Effectively Deal with Conflict. I thought in my Blog post this month I would give you some of the 50 ways from the book. 

Ways to Effectively Deal with Conflict

First speak what you are committed to in the relationship: Before diving into the problem, take a minute to stop and get clear on what you each are COMMITTED to in this relationship. If you are talking with your teen, focus on your common commitments, such as working together as a family or your commitment to doing your best as a parent.  

When sharing what you are committed to in this relationship, word it in a POSITIVE way. It might be that you are committed to supporting them to be the best they can be in life, or simply that you want to be there for them no matter what. 

Be willing to have fierce conversations to gain clarity: Fierce conversations are ones where each person attempts to get clarity, and this may mean you have to tell the truth about what you really feel and want to say. In these “moments of TRUTH” you are stating the reality of the situation – for YOU. Then it’s important to check if what is true for you is also true for the other!

Always remember that people have absolute CLARITY about what it is they DON’T want! And never assume anything about the situation or the person.

Keeping this in mind, first ask open questions which start with… “What…? Tell me… How…? When… and Where?”

These will help you gain CLARITY about the situation and will help to bring out those “moments of truth. Put another way, this is where the “BFO’s”, show up – those blinding flashes of the obvious!

In this process, ALWAYS use “I” statements – not “YOU always, never, should”… etc. And also show kindness when having to deal with those difficult moments. If you’re being honest with yourself about your commitment to this relationship, you will have some concern about how the other person feels. So, show that you care when speaking to them. Soften your voice and make sure that your body language is relaxed. 

If you’d like to learn more ways to effectively deal with conflict no matter who you’re with I invite you to purchase my ebook 50 Ways to Effectively Deal with Conflict (USD $10), and yes it does really have 50 ways! For those parents that would like to join my parenting Facebook group you can go here Parent with Teens, Tween and Anything In between. I would love to hear your comments and please share with others if you have found this post helpful. Together we can create a kinder and more peaceful world.