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How can we minimize conflict’s negative effects?

An opinion piece on how to handle conflict
Conflict Getty
Thoughts on handling conflict.

How do you handle conflict?  

Each of us has a different way of managing it. Some people try to avoid conflict at all costs, some actively seek it out and some people handle conflict head on. Knowing how you handle conflict will take a moment of thoughtful introspection, but this will help you resolve future conflicts more efficiently and help guide you to areas of improvement. 

Conflict happens when two or more people have opposing views on a topic or situation. It is important to note that conflict is a natural part of life and relationships. Those who are able to handle conflict in a healthy way usually have improved mental wellbeing.  

Conflict arises when communication breaks down, thus can be alleviated by engaging in active listening and effective communication techniques.  

There are many communication barriers that may lead to conflict if not addressed. These may include: 

  • Assumptions – Assuming you know where the conversation is going and not double checking. 
  • Stereotyping – Identifying someone’s experience based solely on a group they may belong to.  
  • Asking “Why” – “Why” questions imply judgment, blame and accusation.  
  • Problem solving – Instead of listening you offer a solution without being asked.  
  • Distractions – Using your phone or having too much going on in the background.  
  • Tone of voice – Using a tone that is condescending shuts down conversation. 

These barriers cause communication to break down in relationships which leads to conflict. Actively avoiding these areas can help to address and resolve conflict.  

Other tips to resolve conflict in a healthy way include choosing the right time to talk where those involved are relaxed and able to pay attention. State your point in a positive way that focuses on your feelings and the situation rather than the other person’s role by using “I” messages. Lastly, look for a solution that works for everyone.  

This is your chance to not only be heard, but listen to the other person’s response. You may not always be able to resolve the dispute, but it is healthy and important to be able to consider compromise.   

When conflict in a relationship is unhealthy, such as one partner becoming physically or emotionally abusive, Envision Counselling can provide resources or counselling.  

If you need someone to talk to, contact Envision Counselling and Support Centre to find out more about rapid access programs like walk-in counselling and Bridging the Distance. These programs accommodate both in-person and telephone needs. If you are experiencing a mental health emergency, please call 911.