Solve Any Relationship Conflict by Dealing with Feelings First

What is conflict? Conflict happens anytime you meet opposition towards your goals and objectives. Conflict can be internal—or self-generated conflict, or it can be external—conflict generated by the opposing views of others. For the sake of this article, we’ll focus on external conflict.

How can I Avoid Conflict?

To put it bluntly—You can’t. To be human is to experience conflict. There is no way to prevent, escape, or avoid it. Why is that? It’s because no matter what stance or position you take, there will always be others who will think the opposite or have differing views and therefore, you will always meet obstacles towards your goal throughout your life. To adopt the mindset that conflict has to be avoided is to adopt a mindset based on fear. Conflict is something that can’t be avoided—just accept that fact. We must train ourselves to instead adopt the mindset of, “When I encounter conflict, how can I handle it successfully and grow from it?” Running from or evading conflict situations means that you are also dodging opportunities for personal growth because that’s the positive side of conflict. When we handle conflict in a positive manner, instead of attacking the other person, we absorb their ideas and their perspective on the same situation and this effectively brings us out of our own boxes into a bigger world. This is the beauty of conflict.

If Conflict is So Great, Then Why do Arguments Make me Feel so Bad?

There is a Ying-Yang, or dual-opposite nature, to conflict. It can be positive or it can be destructive based on how it’s handled by the parties involved. It can bring about some fantastic new ideas and perspectives about something that you have never contemplated before, but it can also bring hurt feelings, attacks, and ego-bashing if it’s mishandled. The problem with conflict is not the conflict itself, but rather it’s with the way people handle their emotions, which unfortunately hitch a ride along with the conflict like a parasite. The mistake that many people make is that they try to solve the problem without realizing that the emotions are getting in the way. They hack away at the problem, and in doing so, also hack away at the emotions that are attached to that problem. This results in the problem being solved, but the feelings involved being damaged. That’s why arguments make you feel bad—it comes from focusing too much on the problem and not on the feelings involved.

Peel the Onion to Solve the Problem

Think of the problem in a conflict as the sweet center of an onion covered by tear-jerking outer layers that are the emotions involved with the conflict. In order to get to that center—that problem, you first have to peel back the layers of emotion that cover it. Those outer layers represent our feelings and emotions that cover the problem that needs to be solved. Therefore, you must take into consideration how the person is feeling aside and apart from the problem itself. Only when the emotions have been stabilized through communication, can the center of that onion be reached.

Key Points

* Conflict is inevitable in life. We should train our minds to deal with conflict effectively rather than trying to hide from it.

* Conflicts involve a problem and the personal emotions attached to that problem. The two are inseparable.

* In order to deal with conflict successfully, the feelings and emotions must be stabilized before the problem can be handled.

Tristan Loo is the founder of Alternative Conflict Resolution Services, a personal development consultancy based out of San Diego County, Calfornia. Tristan is a former police officer, author/publisher, professional mediator, and negotiator. Tristan learned the power of holistic communication through the many conflicts he dealt with during his tour as a street cop. Tristan has just published his new book Street Negotiation–How to Resolve Any Conflict Anytime. Please visit his website for more information

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