-by Caryl Ward, CLFE CMHC-Intern
Conflict is a Normal and even healthy part of life and is unavoidable at times. Conflict stems from differences in values, motivations, or deep personal feelings. Learning to accept or understand the conflict in a healthy way is crucial and can provide an opportunity for growth and strengthened relationships. Mismanaged conflict can lead to chronic stress, feelings of anger, and strained relationships. By learning a few simple Tools for Learning and being real about conflict, conflict will not control your emotions and behavior.
Make it Safe for conflict to be resolved. Once again, conflict is in everyday living and needs to be addressed, so let it happen, but in a safe and healthy way. Healthy ways to respond to conflict is readiness to forgive and forget. The ability to compromise and belief that a resolution can be obtained. Separate the Conflict from the individual, value, or deep emotion. Ask a question, “What is really going on? Why is this conflict really bothering me?” Take the person and emotion out of the equation. Be mindful of the triggers that are adding to the conflict. When you realize these and ask yourself these questions, it helps put things into perspective.
Notice When Trust is at Risk and learn to swallow your pride. Take a step back, admit your faults and take conflict in stride. Set up ground rules. Have a mission statement in your home or office. Include these rules or values surrounding conflict and POST them. Without safety
and trust, conflict cannot be resolved. Recognizing and Managing Emotions is a big one. Let’s face it, emotion feeds conflict like giving a tree to a starving caterpillar. So never be tired or hungry when facing conflict. In order to manage emotions, you must recognize them. Know when you are too tired, too stressed, too frustrated. I do NOT believe in the phrase, “never go to bed angry.” Go to bed! Set up a later time when emotions and feelings are under control, when mind and soul are rested, when emotions can be managed, when behavior is controlled in a calm and alert way. This same rule applies in the work setting. Have meetings in the morning, have a rested mind and a full stomach.
Focus on the Present when dealing with conflict. If resentment of the past gets a hold of your emotions, it will impair your goal and the conflict will explode. Talk about the now. Redirect the conversation to be
about the present problem, not the past and the conflict won’t turn into a hurtful and depleting situation. Learn How to Listen to non-verbal clues from yourself. What I mean is those stories in your head that turn your outside body and confidence into mush. Try not to let your non-verbal thoughts get in the way of expressing yourself because your face or body is screaming insecurities. The book, Curial Conversations by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan & Al Switzler is an exhalent book to review for this. Be a better listener of your stories and standup to the un-truths you are telling yourself.
Transform Conflict into Powerful Dialogue by building these skills of—separating the conflict, making it safe, recognizing emotions, focusing on the present, and learning how to listen. Use the conflict resolution cycle (see below). Make sure that safety and trust exist first. Therefore, in any situations where emotions run high, these tools will aid your success within a relationship where conflict resides.
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