Out of Mind: Clear Conflict

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Out of Mind: Clear Conflict

Conflict may be inevitable, but defusing it effectively is a choice.

By Dr. Samineh I. Shaheem

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Published: Sat 20 Sep 2014, 10:34 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 8:59 PM

Strong secure relationships don’t form accidentally. They’re the result of quality time spent in different settings, circumstances and powerful elements such as understanding, compatibility, empathy and conflict. That’s right – conflict. Disagreements don’t necessarily have to damage a relationship. In fact, such interactions can actually deepen the bond and attachment between people. How? Let me explain further using a metaphor. Every time you have an argument with someone, it feels as if the rope connecting you and the other person has been severed. If that person is dear enough to you to resolve the conflict, you reconnect your rope by tying a knot that actually brings you closer to one another, both in distance and acceptance. See, conflict arises as a result of the different expectations people have and is a very normal part of healthy social involvement. What is important, then, is to learn how to manage disagreements so that they don’t damage you.

Both parties’ need to play an important role in the success of the relationship.

Each side deserves respect and consideration and if one side feels ignored, insulted or neglected, they’re likely to harbour anger and resentment. Now if the issue is discussed and dealt with, conflict can represent an opportunity for growth, development and positive progression. However, many people choose to ignore, repress or avoid the grievance, burying their head in the sand and hoping that time will some how iron things out. This course of action usually worsens the situation, impacting our association and well being, both emotionally and physically. Lingering conflict therefore can eventually result in:

  • Loss of concentration
  • Absenteeism at work
  • Disputes with others
  • Passive aggression
  • Changes in appetite and sleep
  • Anxiety
  • Insecurity
  • Lowered immunity
  • Lowered self confidence & self doubt
  • General feeling of sadness

Conflict may be inevitable, but defusing it effectively is a choice. The next time you feel trapped in the middle of a conflict, or as it’s brewing like a disruptive storm, consider these eight steps that will take you closer towards resolution and hopefully minimise the negative effects.

  • Step 1 – You should know yourself well enough to know what has triggered this conflict. Were you just having a bad day or have your principles been compromised?
  • Step 2 - Clarify what the disagreement is about. In most cases people have different perceptions regarding the root of the dispute.
  • Step 3 – Listen carefully without blaming or interrupting. Avoid games, insenserity and manipulation since these underhanded strategies might work temporarily however are quite destructive in the long term.
  • Step 4 - Establish what both of your needs are. This will include a deeper discussion about your values and why you feel so firmly committed to those needs.
  • Step 5 – Discuss whether those needs can or can’t be met in a calm and clear manner.
  • Step 6 – If needs can be met, you have a resolution. If needs can’t be met, than you need to negotiate so that you explore other options and ways to defuse the disagreement.
  • Step 7 – Make sure you apologise for your mistakes and take responsibility for your inappropriate actions.
  • Step 8 - Learn from the conflict, try not to repeat it in the future and move forward without holding a grudge.

Conflict can creep up on us at work, between family members or friends and even initiated by a stranger on the road! Those challenging moments can make us feel stuck and reveal our dark sides, turning us into creatures sometimes unrecognizable even to ourselves. The aftermath of this scenario, however, is that you could be exposed to different ideas, new ways of behaving and feel more emotionally strong and mentally clear about what triggers you in a negative way. More importantly, learning to ‘make up’ is one of the most pivotal developmental lessons learnt since stalemate disagreements are lazy and ineffective ways of managing relationships. Knowing that ‘this too shall end’ is very comforting, especially in the midst of an emotional battle. As William James said, “Whenever you’re in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is attitude.”

Dr. Samineh I. Shaheem is the Learning & Development Director at Kawader (www.kawaderuae.com), and the owner of Life Clubs UAE. She has studied and worked in different parts of the world, including the USA, Canada, UK, Netherlands, and now the UAE. She co-hosts a radio programme on 103.8 FM Dubai Eye (Psyched Sundays, Voices of Diversity 10-12pm) every Sunday morning discussing the most relevant psychological issues in our community. Twitter: @saminehshaheem/Facebook: Life Clubs UAE. Please forward your thoughts and suggestions for future articles to OutOfMindContact@gmail.com

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