Being in relationship with others means you will inevitably experience conflict at some point or the other. So when you are dealing with a slight hiccup with your friends or loved ones, here are 3 simple steps when navigating conflict in your closest relationships.
Navigating Conflict in 3 Ways:
Step 1|3: SHOW UP
When we are in a close relationship with someone and there is unaddressed conflict we usually fall on 1 of 2 camps. Either 1) you avoid the conversation altogether, in effect sweeping this negativity under the rug which over time erodes your connection, OR 2) you’re prone to enter the conversation too quickly in anger, which causes defensiveness, and escalates the conflict further. Both of these responses are toxic and only increase the negative energy of the conflict.
- Avoiders: Place your hand on your heart- repeat “I CAN show up in this relationship and express my truth. It isn’t petty, divisive or dramatic to explain how something impacted me. In fact, it is the only way to create TRUE and lasting harmony between myself and those I love.”
- Reactors: Take 10 deep, cleansing breaths. Slow down, let the energy discharge from your system BEFORE you engage the other person.
Step 2|3: SPEAK THE TRUTH
Once you’ve allowed yourself to show up for this conversation in a helpful way it’s time to share your feelings with the other person.
- Avoiders: remember you are acting as a surgeon with the intent to cut out the infection in order to bring healing to the body. You can start the conversation with something like this.. “I am having some feelings that are impeding our connection. I value our relationship very highly so even though it is uncomfortable for me, I want to share this with you so that we can move forward.”
- Reactors: Anger is a secondary emotion that always covers something more primal. Do you feel scared this person will leave you? Sad that they don’t seem to value you? What feeling is driving the anger? Once you’ve uncovered the deeper emotion that is driving your anger, you can talk with your loved one about the root of what you are truly feeling without the anger covering up what is going on beneath the surface.
Step 3|3: WALK AWAY
Once you’ve spoken your truth, and you’ve explained your perspective and feelings then leave it out there. Let it sink in. Allow them to feel something about what you just said. Don’t back track, don’t apologize for your feelings. Resist the urge to control their response. We are only responsible for ourselves and if we try to manipulate others’ feelings then we aren’t in an honest relationship with them.
So next time you’re in the midst of conflict with someone you want to be connected to deeply, remember to 1) show up, 2) speak the truth in love, and (metaphorically) walk away!