Does the word conflict make you feel immediately uncomfortable?
Would you do anything to shut down or change a conversation if there was a disagreement?
That’s a normal reaction because fighting isn’t fun. It’s stressful and it can affect your important relationships.
However, in many situations at work or with friends it can be a healthy way to express your feelings and to have your thoughts and opinions heard.
What stops us speaking up when we disagree?
There’re a lot of different reasons why we avoid conflict and I’ve picked out some of the common ones my clients mention:
A deep fear of upsetting the other person, being disapproved of or causing other negative emotions
An experience of bad arguments in your childhood or adulthood
A childhood where there was never conflict and disagreements weren’t discussed
Conditioning by society, school or parents to behave like a ‘nice’ girl
How do I build my conflict resolution skills?
Step 1 – is this issue important enough to me to speak up? You don’t have to confront every situation but if it’s happened before or you’re having conversations in your head about it or it breaches your personal boundaries then go for it
Step 2 – speak assertively. This means acknowledging the other persons point or summarising the facts of the situation and using ‘I’ statements. Then you won’t be blaming the other person and they’re less likely to be defensive
Step 3 – Listen and question. I like to think about Stephen Covey’s famous quote “Seek first to understand, then to be understood“
Step 4 – what is the real issue behind the conflict? The other person’s issue might not be what you’re disagreeing about. For example, a heated team meeting about who takes what role on a project, might actually be about feelings of jealousy or being left out. When you know the real meaning it’s easier to be compassionate
Step 5 – winning isn’t always the right outcome. Having a set outcome in mind is important, such as an apology or change of opinion. Sometimes just speaking up for yourself is enough. It gives a great boost to your self-respect and also builds the other person’s respect for you.
If dealing with conflict and being assertive are challenges for you, then do book a call with me and I’ll share with you strategies to make it easier.