Conflicts are a frequent part of life, and it is in everyone’s best interest to understand how to avoid negative conflicts and how to resolve one’s own conflicts. The following is a very short list of things to keep in mind, that will go a long way toward that goal:
1 — Disagreements are normal and desirable. Without disagreements, we would all be constantly mouthing platitudes, and stagnating as individuals and as a society. So, learning how to handle differences of opinion and different perspectives on a situation are necessary skills in life.
2 — Many disagreements — if not most — are a result of misunderstandings. We are all different individuals, yet we all assume that others will understand our intentions when we speak and will interpret our words the way we meant them. This is very often not the case. Taking pains to check for understanding, to clarify one’s meaning and to explain one’s intentions — even more than once — can go a long way toward avoiding or resolving disagreements based on misunderstandings.
3 — There is usually more than one valid perspective about a situation. Most people know that there are two sides to every story, but when we are in our own conflicts, many times we find it difficult to really believe that. Reminding ourselves that we should solicit the other person’s perspective, try to understand it, check for understanding, and consider it in any solution we come up with, is the way toward resolving nearly every disagreement.
4 — How we speak can be as important as what we say. We are often unaware that our tone of voice, the speed with which we are speaking, the volume of our speech, or the fact that we are cutting the other person off mid-sentence, can be contributing to a sense that we are not respecting their input; or that we are angry, dismissive of their views, contemptuous or disdainful. Paying attention to how we speak and correcting any of these negative messages, is important in hearing what another person has to say and setting the stage for having them be willing to hear what you have to say.