Keeping the Peace

Tips For Handling Conflict

  1. Do everything you can to maintain self-control. Don’t get drawn into another person’s anger. An angry person is usually looking for a response and will do anything to lure you into battle. Don’t take the bait. Self-control takes practice, but the more you use your “self-control muscle”, the stronger it becomes, and the easier it is to remain calm when tensions are high.
  2. Be fair, and keep an open mind. Let the other person speak without interruption. Make an effort to see things from their perspective. Look for areas of compromise.
  3. Stick to the facts.Attack the problem, not the person.
  4. Avoid negative tones that are likely to trigger hostility.This would include accusation, blame, sarcasm, and extra emphasis on certain words.
  5. Use “I” centered language.Stay away from phrases like “you’re not listening to me”. Instead say things like “I don’t feel I’m being heard”. Don’t say “You make me angry”. Instead, accept responsibility for your own anger, and say “I get angry when…”
  6. Be aware of your body language.Avoid dismissive or aggressive body gestures, such as shrugging, eye rolling, head shaking, heavy sighing, inattention, pointing, shaking fists, and invading personal space. Instead, speak in low tones, maintain eye contact, nod to indicate understanding, and maintain an open posture.
  7. Drop your defenses. Although it may feel like you’re “under attack” when someone disagrees or insults you, this is just a trick of the mind. There is no actual danger, and defense just wastes your valuable energy. As soon as you “defend” yourself, you simply invite more conflict. Focus on resolution, rather than defense.
  8. Never waste time trying to “prove” someone wrong.In some cases, you can end the conflict simply by saying “You may be right.” Many people simply want to be right. Another strategy is to just “agree to disagree”. If you need to disagree on a specific matter, preface it with the phrase, “With all due respect, I see things a little differently.”
  9. Set reasonable boundaries.Let the other person know what you will and will not tolerate. You can do this in a respectful, yet assertive way. If you have an end in mind, tell the other person specifically what you want in a calm, non-threatening manner.
  10. Never try to reason with someone who is extremely angry or violent.Instead, wait until things have calmed down. If necessary, take a temporary break from the conflict. For example, excuse yourself to go to the restroom. This will give things a few moments to quiet down. If the conflict is uncomfortable or dangerous, simply walk away. It is sometimes appropriate to leave conflicts unresolved or to return to them at a later time.
  11. Above all, resist the urge to retaliate.If you want peace in your life, you must conduct yourself in a peaceful manner.