Conflict Resolution


Conflict is a normal part of life for all of us, but there are healthy and unhealthy ways to deal with conflict in work, school, and personal relationships. Conflicts arise because everyone, no matter what their ethnic background, race, gender, or sexual orientation, needs to feel that they are being heard. Here are a couple of characteristics of conflict:

  • a conflict is a situation in which one or both parties perceive a threat, whether or not it is real,
  • a conflict continues to grow if it is ignored by one or both parties,
  • we respond to conflict based on our own perception that is shaped by our life experience and culture,
  • conflicts trigger very strong emotions,
  • and conflicts offer an opportunity for growth and understanding in the process of resolution.

Some people may be fearful of conflict because it highlights differences between themselves and their peers, and they may have experienced negative outcomes as a result of conflict in their lives. However, when dealt with in a healthy manner, conflict is an opportunity for growth. The following are healthy responses to conflict that can help shape the mindset of someone who is fearful of conflict:

  • the capacity to recognize and respond to the things that matter to the other person,
  • calm, non-defensive, and respectful reactions,
  • a readiness to forgive and forget and to move past the conflict without holding onto grudges,
  • the ability to seek compromise and avoid punishing the other person,
  • and a belief that facing conflict head on is the best thing for you and the other person.

A major part of being able to successfully resolve conflict is the ability to change your mindset from wanting to “win” an argument to wanting to “resolve” a conflict. Winning is a juvenile goal that lacks the maturity of an objective perspective. The following are things to think about when changing your perspective of conflict in order to healthily resolve them in your life:

  • listen for what is felt by the other person as well as what is being said,
  • focus on the present rather than bringing up past problems,
  • pick your battles: don’t have an argument about something that is not really important to you,
  • be willing to forgive and resist the urge to punish the other person,
  • and know when to let something go: agree to disagree if the conflict is going nowhere.

Below is a list of resources that provides more information on healthy conflict resolution and how to change your mindset in order to successfully resolve conflicts in your life.

Last Updated: 6/13/2011