Approaching Conflicts

In an interview transmitted by WLCH, 91.3 FM in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, U.S.A., Charito Calvachi-Mateyko asked, “In our relationships with others there are conflicts.  Are these extraordinary occurrences that happen in our lives or something we all face sooner or later?  How might we better approach conflict resolution?”

Probably most of us have experienced some kind of conflict in our relationships with others, to a greater or lesser degree.  Conflict is natural and inevitable.  Friction and conflicts have a purpose in life and can potentially inspire us to more peaceful and harmonious living.  They have the potential to deepen our communications with family and friends.  What varies is the manner in which we face them.

Conflicts occur for an endless number of reasons.  There may be disagreements about facts or events in specific situations.  There may be a conflict in goals or objectives to be pursued or in the way in which something is going to be carried out.  There may be disagreements in people’s values and ideals, and in their perceptions and approach to handling situations in life.

Some people tend to avoid facing conflicts, as they give them a great deal of anxiety and a sense of uncertainty.  Avoiding conflict does not resolve the issue, instead the differences which created it may tend to grow with time and the situation can become more difficult to solve.  Other individuals may show a combative style in dealing with conflict, an opposite approach.  These people can be very emotional and direct, so we always know their desires.  However, by their way of dealing with situations, they can hurt others and hinder effective communication.  There may also be a tendency to compromise, which can leave a sense of incompleteness in the process.

Another approach encourages collaboration.  In this case, people involved in the situation work first toward establishing common goals.  Attentive listening in a sincere effort to understand the other’s point of view is a critical skill for conflict resolution.  It is also meaningful to make an effort to express our own thoughts and feelings in the most objective and open way.  By following this approach we become interested in seeking a common peaceful solution that is favorable for all concerned.  We care for what is good for the whole.  Everyone wins.  This is the style that enables us to resolve conflicts and to sustain harmonious relations within ourselves and with others.

Here are a few questions that may further understanding of a personal style in dealing  with conflicts: Is there a tendency in the kind of conflicts that arise in my life?  Do I understand why these conflicts happen?  What might my responsibility be?  How do I handle them?  Am I usually willing to listen to the other’s perspectives in an effort to first understand?  In most situations in life, it is possible to find common objectives and expand our communication in an effort where everyone experiences a sense of fine resolution and completion.

By Mayte Picco-Kline

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