Interpersonal conflict is an issue that we all have to deal with in different situations and environments. Everyone has differences of opinion and disagreements, or we may have times when we need to have difficult conversations with others. Conflict can be hard to handle, especially if you feel anxious at the thought of being disliked or being judged. It can lead to arguments too, bringing up negative feelings in yourself and about the people you are clashing with.
When experiencing conflict at school or work, it can be tempting to either try and ignore it or react without thinking it through first. But if you handle the conflict poorly, you could regret not being mindful and purposeful with how you dealt with it. If you have a disagreement or conflict with another person, it can be easy to cast them in a bad light and create an embellished narrative based on these negative feelings. However, there are healthier ways to deal with conflict that can lead to more neutral or even positive emotions and a resolution that betters your relationships with your coworkers or peers.
Taking a Mindful Approach to Conflict
Being mindful means focusing on the present moment. It can be an excellent tool to use with meditation and to help with stress and anxiety, but it can also be applied to conflict resolution. A mindful approach to addressing conflict encourages you to be more open and accepting of the situation. Instead of turning a conflict or disagreement into a fight where someone is right and someone is wrong, it can be treated as a situation that you and the other person involved can work through in a positive and respectful way. This approach is better for your mental health, helping you to avoid feelings of resentment, disappointment, anger, and other negative emotions.
One way that mindful conflict resolution works is through helping you to manage your emotions. Many people react to conflict and negative feedback, feeling hurt and perhaps the need to immediately defend themselves. Using mindful techniques, you can navigate this immediate emotional reaction and use strategies such as acceptance and interconnection to react in a different way.
Key Steps to Mindful Conflict Resolution
There are some important steps that you can take if you want to practice mindful conflict resolution. Try some of these strategies to manage conflict in a way that leaves you feeling happier and more positive:
- Pause and take a breath – Take a moment to ground yourself, breathe in and out, and focus on the present moment. This will help you to avoid lashing out or reacting emotionally.
- Pay attention to your thoughts and feelings – Allow your thoughts and feelings to come and go, recognizing how the situation is making you feel but avoiding reacting to them right away.
- Acknowledge your choice – Remember that you can choose how to react to conflict. It’s ok to feel upset and you might express that with a simple statement, but you also have the choice to step away and deal with things when you feel calmer and are in a better mindset to find a solution.
- Suggest a resolution – Conflicts should be resolved rather than letting them fester. Turn the conflict into a conversation and find ways to resolve it, then move on.
It takes work to mindfully deal with conflict in a healthy way, but it does leave you feeling better as well as feeling less anxious and angry about the situation.