When you get a large group of family members together, or even friends, it may seem like conflict of some sort is unavoidable. This year, prepare yourself with these three steps towards conflict resolution. If you aren’t involved in the argument, at least you can help diffuse it:
Step 1: Stop and identify the root of the problem. The most important thing to remember is to control your emotions so that you can view the situation objectively. Acknowledge your feelings, but then set them aside. Ask yourself: What is really going on? When did it start? Who is involved? What is at stake for me? What does the optimal resolution look like?
Step 2: Try on different ways of resolving the issue. Keeping your desired outcome in mind, weigh the consequences of each different approach. Does your solution consider the feelings of the other party? Try to anticipate feelings and reactions and use your empathy to think about how you would feel if your solution were presented to you. Go in expecting to compromise.
Step 3: Present your solution. If you think you’ve identified the best-case scenario for both parties, start your presentation by stating the common ground. Then bring up the areas that both of you need to work on. Offer several different ways in which you can both improve, always keeping the other person’s feelings and your desired outcome in mind.
It may not seem like it at the time, but conflict is an opportunity to grow. Sharpen your communication skills and think about another perspective. This will help you in all areas of your life.
Women, Fall 2011