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23
Aug

5 Ways To Resolve Conflict With A Healthy Approach

Conflict can be intimidating whether it is with a partner, coworker, boss, or friend. Even if you identify as being a person who approaches conflict in a straightforward manner, there are strategies to help you improve in conflict resolution.

Whether you feel scared, eager, or neutral when you enter a conflict with yourself or another person; there are tools you can use to grow from the conflict in a healthy way.

The best conflicts will help your relationships. You can make a conflict better, worse, or more neutral. Though it can be difficult to maintain neutrality when there is a disagreement, you can develop your skills to maintain inner peace even if your external factors feel chaotic.

Conflict is a natural part of life, so rather than give yourself unfair expectations every time it happens, you can develop tools to help neutralize the experience. If you find yourself in the middle of many conflicts frequently, you can reflect on this pattern as well. Living in extremes of no conflict or much conflict usually indicates that there is an opportunity for self-reflection.

Here are 5 ways to help you resolve conflict with a healthy approach:

1. Identify Your Boundaries.

Once you know what you are willing to accept, you can navigate how this feels in relation to others. By identifying your boundaries, you may feel more empowered to assertively approach conflict because you will feel less victimized or have the need to victimize to get your point across.

Using an assertive manner resolves conflicts in a healthy way because there is less resentment or build up of explosive anger. Unresolved conflict can lead to personal attack or conflict avoidance because there is a lack of trust. Clear expectations can lead to greater understanding in your relationships. Aggressive and passive-aggressive communication during a conflict can end or worsen relationships.

For example, if you or a loved one haven’t done the dishes in a couple of days, the three different communication styles may sound like this:

Passive-aggressive: Oh, I guess the dishes haven’t been done again. That’s a shame because I was really hoping to make dinner with you tonight.

Aggressive: How idiotic do you have to be not to know how to clean dishes? Get this cleaned up!

Assertive: I feel disorganized when dishes are in the sink. Are you willing to help clean them up? I want to make dinner with you tonight and a clean kitchen helps me to feel better in the space.

2. Get To The Point With “I” Language Instead Of “You” Language.

Clear is kinder than unclear. When you are approaching conflict, letting your feelings stew is unhelpful. It can also lead to unnecessary stress, more negative feelings, and unhealthy conflict.

Manipulation occurs when you make others guess how you are feeling. Saying things like, “You should know how I am feelingwill not resolve conflicts. It is your job to communicate how you feel.

For example, people can’t guess when you are changing lanes on the freeway. The way you let people know you are doing that is by putting on your turn signal. That way, other drivers can choose to let you into their lane or not. By putting on your turn signal, you are making your needs clear. The same goes for emotions.

When you clearly indicate how you feel or what you need, people are much more receptive. Sometimes, significant people in your life won’t know there is a problem until you explicitly tell them. For example, you may be having a team conflict with a coworker at work or in the workplace.

Healthy conflict in a work environment may sound like this:

You: I feel dismissed in our meetings when you interrupt while I am sharing ideas. I want to help the team in an effective way. Can you wait until I am finished speaking before you add?

Coworker: I want to make sure that my ideas are shared within our team too, and I don’t feel like I am being heard.

You: I understand how that feels. What solution feels comfortable to you when this occurs?

Coworker: I don’t want to forget what I am trying to say, so do you mind if I start the conversation about the projects I am leading in meetings?

You: Yes, you are welcome to start the conversation for your projects so that we can both be heard.

When you express yourself with willingness, you may find out that people in your life also have unmet needs. Coming up with a solution together can empower both parties, whether it be a workplace conflict, personal relationship conflict, or even internal conflict.

3. Make An Issue The Conflict, Not A Person.

When you solve problems together in your relationships, you can improve the dynamic.

To team up together against the problem helps set up healthy conflict resolution. Instead of person vs. person, the problem becomes team vs. conflict. This helps create trust in the relationship.

When you make people the problem, resentments can fester and anger can be inevitable. By approaching the issue with both people, teamwork is already in place.

There can be unhealthy conflict if the issue is the person. This sets up failure because it personalizes a conflict and can make someone use defensiveness. When a person feels attacked, they will be more combative.

Part of neutralizing the conflict with someone means that you are solving an issue not fixing a person. This can lead to healthy conflict.

In a friendship, conflict may sound like this:

Scenario When A Person Is The Conflict: You said that you would spend time with me on my birthday! Since you aren’t coming to my party, I feel like I don’t have any friends showing up for me now!

Scenario When An Issue Is the Conflict: I want to spend time with you. I know there is a conflict with the date of my birthday party. What other day works so that we can spend time with one another?

In this scenario, spending time with one another is the issue. Events like birthdays can supercharge a situation, leading to issues within a healthy relationship too. This is a good moment to pause.

By coming up with solutions to solve the problem, you can grow your relationship. You can’t change a person to be less busy; you can identify ways to spend time with them.

4. Listen.

As much as you want to be heard in a situation, remember that the other person is seeking the same thing. You may want to take a deep breath before you approach a difficult conversation.

Sometimes, it can feel like the stakes are high. You may not want to lose a person, place, or thing.

You are not wrong for getting invested in intimate relationships that require vulnerability. This is one of the greatest joys. However, you can help yourself by listening to your own needs and the desires of others too.

When someone is speaking to you, a strategy to use for listening is paraphrasing. Once someone is finished speaking, you can re-tell what they said in your own words. This helps you to avoid listening only so that you can speak again.

Paraphrasing can also slow down a hard conversation so that rash decisions aren’t made by either party. Paraphrasing not only helps with perspective but also with being heard and seen during conflict resolution.

5. Seek Understanding, Not Agreement.

You don’t have to resolve a conflict with agreement. You can solve a problem with understanding. Whether you are in a workplace, inside your home, or out in public; conflict resolution skills can be used.

This may mean that you compromise rather than explicitly agree on a behavior. When both people have been heard, you can know that you are doing your best and the other person is doing their best. Hearing every idea can lead to healthy communication and ease tension in a conversation.

If the same arguments resurface in your relationships, use that as a signal that the real issue likely has to do with a belief about yourself. During those moments, you can lovingly tend to yourself to develop a new skill. You can let the other person know that you played out one of your patterns again, and that you are continuing to make changes.

This will help to improve conflict management and demonstrate humility when an emotion surfaces. With an apology and amendment of action, you can move forward. You won’t solve every problem right away.

There may be issues that continue to happen in your life but allowing space for resolution is a healthy approach to conflict.

You don’t have to agree to understand, and you don’t have to understand to love. A willingness to try with an open heart and mind each time you have a conflict with a person can make a world of difference.

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Conflict is not easy, but it is inevitable. There will be many people who have a different opinion than you, which is why healthy communication skills can help.

When you select helpful tools to resolve your problems, you become more and more adept at solving issues each time. You will not do this perfectly, and hearing people can help immensely.

When your ability to solve conflicts improves, you will begin to understand what works for you and your relationships. You can also identify what doesn’t work.

Productive conflict is part of emotional intelligence, and building skills can take a lifetime. There is room for applying what you like and leaving the rest.

If you are struggling with addressing conflict in a healthy way and want to learn more, our therapists can help. We can help you explore unhelpful patterns and stories that keep you stuck in conflict avoidant or unhealthy conflict behaviors. If you want to improve your relationships and learn to stand up for yourself and work together with others, we can help. 

Learn More About Denver Metro Counseling

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Written by: Randi Thackeray, MA
Clinically Reviewed and Edited by: Julie Reichenberger, MA, LPC, ACS, ACC

Read More: “How To Apologize: 9 Rules For An Authentic Apology”

Read More: “5 Tips To Engaging With Your Teen”

Read More: What Are Boundaries And Why Are They Important? Learn To Set And Keep Boundaries.”

Read More: “5 Reasons Your Teen Doesn’t Talk To You”


Denver Metro Counseling is a group of clinicians who provide therapeutic support in Denver, Colorado for teens, adults, parents, and families. We provide supportive therapy online and in-person for teens and adults helping them learn to manage life obstacles and create a path toward a rich, meaningful life. 
Denver Metro Counseling

Our Clinician’s Bios:
Audrey Bristol, LSW
Molly Ward, LCSW
Karan Steuart, LCSW, LAC
Julie Reichenberger, MA, LPC, ACC, ACS

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