We have all experienced it. That moment when we realize something is different.

There’s a sense of unease. Something is not right. The communication between you and your partner, family member, or a friend has changed. Things now seem superficial or tense. Or worse: there’s silence.

We begin to feel panicky, well at least I do, because we know the BIG C is here: CONFLICT!

Conflict between people is a normal part of life. It happens at work, at home and in all our relationships with others.

But despite being normal, conflict often triggers negative emotions within us. Some of us get nervous and feel threatened, anxious and sometimes even down-right mean. The same person we enjoyed spending time with yesterday all of the sudden seems like the enemy. We ask ourselves who is this person? And since we don’t have the answer, we’re not sure how to handle the situation.

Perhaps it’s that uncertainty that makes some of us panic the moment we are faced with conflict.

I used to think the world was coming to an end the second I sensed there was conflict. If I had an argument with my partner at the time I would say to myself, that’s it, it’s over. It’s over was part of my DNA. It was my go-to position.

It took me years to realize that conflict does not have to mean it’s over or the end of anything. In the interim, I learned that conflicts can be resolved. I have also learned that how we overcome our conflicts in life is critical.

To overcome them, you have to deal with them. And the first step to do that is to define what is the conflict. In other words, ask yourself where is my dissatisfaction really stemming from? How does it differ from my vision of this relationship?

Next you should ask, How do I want to proceed? How we approach the conflict is the key to resolving it. Honestly, you might realize you just want to yell and scream at the person or maybe write a nasty text or email. But before you do something rash, I suggest you practice what I do instead: put yourself in the other person’s shoes. It’s old advice, but it works. Think about what the other person may be feeling or thinking before you reach out to him or her. Think about the “why,” the motivation, behind those feelings and thoughts. Try to understand the other person’s point of view.

Once you identify the conflict, and then you decide how you want to resolve it, you can take the necessary steps to address it with the other person. Stay tuned to future blogs if you need help doing just that.

In the meantime, ask yourself: am I faced with conflict today? How do I want to handle it?

I have learned that facing it and resolving conflict with kindness, love and respect for others is really key. No one likes conflict but it really is a part of life.

Use today to at least think about what it is that is causing you angst. If not today, then when?


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