OpEd, Politics

Building the skills that can Turn Conflicts into opportunities

By Joseph Akim Gordon

Conflict is a normal part of any healthy relationship; after all, two people cannot be expected to agree on everything all the time. Learning how to deal with conflict rather than avoiding it is crucial. When conflict is mismanaged, it can cause great harm to a relationship, but when handled in a respectful, positive way, conflict can provide an opportunity to strengthen the bond between two people. By learning these skills for conflict resolution, you can keep your personal and professional relationships strong and growing.

Conflict arises from differences, both large and small. It occurs whenever people disagree over their values, motivations, perceptions, ideas, or desires. Sometimes these differences appear trivial, but when a conflict triggers strong feelings, a deep personal need is often at the core of the problem. These needs can be a need to feel safe and secure, a need to feel respected and valued, or a need for greater closeness and intimacy.

Conflicts arise from differing needs; everyone needs to feel understood, nurtured, and supported, but the ways in which these needs are met vary widely. Differing needs for feeling comfortable and safe create some of the most severe challenges in our personal and professional relationships. The needs of both parties play important roles in the long-term success of most relationships, and each deserves respect and consideration. In personal relationships, a lack of understanding about differing needs can result in distance, arguments, and breakups. In workplace conflicts, differing needs are often at the heart of bitter disputes, sometimes resulting in broken deals, no profit or reduced profit, and the loss of jobs. When you can recognize the legitimacy of conflict needs and become willing to examine them in an environment of compassionate understanding, it opens a pathway to problem-solving, team building, and improved relationships.

A conflict is more than just a disagreement; it is a situation in which one or both parties perceive a threat. A conflict continues to grow when it is ignored because conflicts involve perceived threats to the well-being and survival of both parties. Unless the conflicting parties resolve their differences, the threat and fear of conflicts will continue to exist. People respond to conflicts based on the situation on the ground; the parties to a conflict will base their decisions on their level of experience, culture, values, and beliefs. Conflicts will often trigger strong emotions. Conflicts are an opportunity for growth when you are able to resolve conflict in a relationship, which builds trust. You can feel secure knowing your relationship can survive challenges and disagreements.

No one can avoid conflict because so long as you live in a group, you cannot avoid conflict. The perception of conflict comes from previous frightening or painful memories from previous unhealthy relationships during your life. There are times you reflect on disagreements that ended badly, and as such, you may view conflict as reflecting the demoralizing and dangerous things to fear. You have no control over your fears, so you become powerless and can become traumatized. Healthy ways of managing conflict include the capacity to recognize and respond to the things that matter to another person, the readiness to forgive and forget and to move past the conflict without holding resentment or anger, the ability to seek compromise and avoid punishing, and the belief that facing conflict head-on is the best thing for both sides.

Conflict triggers strong emotions and can lead to hurt feelings, disappointment, and discomfort when handled in an unhealthy manner. It can only irresponsibly cause rifts, resentments, and break-ups. The ability to successfully resolve conflict depends on the ability to manage stress quickly while remaining alert and calm. By staying calm, you can accurately read and interpret verbal and nonverbal communication and control your emotions and behavior. When you are in control of your emotions, you can communicate your needs without threatening, frightening, or punishing others; pay attention to the feelings being expressed as well as the spoken words of others; be aware of and respectful of differences; and by avoiding disrespectful words and actions, you can almost always resolve a problem faster. To successfully resolve a conflict, you will need to learn and practice two core skills: the ability to quickly reduce stress in the moment and the ability to remain comfortable enough with your emotions to react in constructive ways even in the midst of an argument or perceived attack.

Given the high level of conflicts in our communities and other organized groups, it is much better for us to learn skills for resolving conflicts. Once we have learned the ability to resolve conflict even within our families, it will serve a good purpose, so it is better for us to get acquainted with the skills we can use to resolve conflicts within our communities and families.

The author can be reached through e-mail: akimgordon222@gmail.com


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