Words Hurt: 7 Ways to Handle Conflict

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Communication is vital – both in your personal and business world. Often conflicts will arise, and it can be difficult to manage them in such a way that there is no tension or hurtful words being used. In a nutshell, words hurt. No one likes conflict, but even worse – no one likes to be called names or being in tense conversations. Thus, it is good to know how to avoid such conversations and always remain calm when handling conflict. Respect goes hand-in-hand with resolving conflict, and preventing tension from building can really resolve a conflict. The goal of any conflict is to resolve it, and if hurtful words are used, they are typically never resolved but rather prolonged and create resentment. If interested in the ways you can manage conflict both in your personal and business world, here are seven tips to guide you.

Remain Calm and Collected

The first thing to keep in mind when managing a conflict is to remain calm. Typically when things get heated, it is because one or both parties are impatient, defensive or agitated. Your attitude in a conversation really affects the other person and the conversation in general. It also creates conflict beyond the conversation. Often, conflict between two people that is left unresolved or is badly resolved can create long-lasting feelings of resentment toward each other. Within the business industry, this can seriously alter the business structure and make work both awkward and uncomfortable. Within personal life, it can ruin friendship and familial relationships. Thus, avoiding hurtful words and staying calm really does have an effect. It proves to the other person that you truly understand how they feel and respect their side of the conflict.

Remain Positive and Understanding

Like remaining calm and collected, staying positive and understanding can really help reinforce this notion of respect for the other person. If you ever have a problem with someone’s actions, you always want the other person to understand that what they did was hurtful to you and that you would prefer they not do that again. If the person does not show a concern for your wishes, resentment can grow and you ultimately lose respect for that person as well. Not only that, but in these situations, you always want to show the other person the same respect as you would want given to you. Thus, remaining positive and understanding is useful. That way, negative words that hurt can be avoided. Both people will notice the conflict being resolved in a healthy way. Additionally, if you remain positive and understanding, it is likely that the other person will do the same out of respect for you. Just remember that if the conversation is calm and both people remain positive, it is almost as if there is no conflict at all.

Listen to the Other Person

Listening to the other person, either when they are defending themselves or letting you know about something you did, is vital when it comes to conflict resolution. Often argument begin because one person only hears the negative statements about them and are quick to defend themselves before even listening to what the accuser has to say. That’s when a list of hurtful words are used and conflicts turn into huge arguments. True, sometimes the defender did nothing wrong and there is righteous cause to defend their actions. But even so, always give the accuser the respect they deserve – even if you don’t particularly care for the other person. Why would you do this? Well, if you give respect, you get respect. Not only that, but if you respect the other person, you are less likely to get in trouble another time. Your accuser will notice that you take the time to understand and are willing to turn thing around.

Be Respectful of Their Opinion

Being respectful of the other person’s opinion really goes hand-in-hand with listening to the other person. Ultimately, it all goes down to this: when you are hurt, you want to be heard. Additionally, when you have hurt someone, you don’t want to be hurt in return. For example, if you ate someone’s apple that was on the counter in the teachers’ lounge, you would rather have the person politely tell you not to do so rather than have them scream at you because you ate their apple. Bottom line: words can hurt. Let us try and find other means of expressing our opinions without using words that hurt. Rather, use words that heal, so that a conflict is truly resolved and both persons are respected. Listening to the other person’s opinion does exactly this: it lets the other person know that you respect what they are saying, have digested the problem and will not do it again. That way, both people are satisfied and the conflict is resolved without stress or frustration.

Use Your Words Wisely

Remaining calm, positive and understand amounts to nothing if you use another word for hurt towards the other person. This can happen when being sarcastic or simply saying mean things with a nice tone. When words hurt, more damage can be done than you might have predisposed. And often, the hurtful words we express when we are not meant – so try to prevent yourself from saying things you will later regret. If trying to maintain a professional conversation and avoid turning a minor conflict into a huge, long-term argument, use your words wisely. Remember to say things that are understanding, or reinforce a sentiment of nicety and respect. For example, say “I understand”, “I agree”, or “I understand your concern and I apologize. I will try not to make the same mistake in the future”. Statements like these do more than just resolve a conflict. It builds your character, reputation and makes others more respectful of you in return. Words are not for hurting; they never should be, even when something has really made you or the other person aggravated. Granted, it is difficult to refrain from adverse conversation, but it is nothing short of possible.

Avoid the Tension

Not only do you need to be as respectful as possible, but also try to prevent tension from building. If another employer, family member or friend comes to you in anger, try to do all you can to calm them down. Remember that you don’t want to get stepped on either. You deserve the same respect as you are being given. That being said, to avoid tension there are many great things you can do. Slowing the other person down, asking them to take it easy in a polite manner, let them know that you understand, providing positive reinforcement or even plainly asking if they could refrain from using harsh words are all things that can be done to prevent tension from building in a conversation. Furthermore, you could ask for the conversation to be discussed in a different place aside from the workplace, children, other people, and so on. That way, tension is removed and conflict can be resolved in a healthy way – pain-free. But make sure that while you are doing this, do not victimize the other person or make them feel as if they are reacting badly. Politely and respectfully let them know that the conflict can be resolved in a stress-free, non-resentful way. Keep it clean, keep it calm and be courteous.

Take Responsibility If Needed

Taking responsibility is something that is extremely difficult for many people to do, as they admit that they did something wrong. That is why in most cases people get very defensive and conflict turns into argument. But often people forget that there are other means of getting their point across without using other words for hurt.

One of the most professional things to do when handling conflict is taking responsibility for your own actions. This is not to say that you should take responsibility for something you did not do, but always admit to your wrong-doings. In the professional world, it shows your employer that you can take criticism in a healthy way and learn from it. Additionally, they can establish trust for you because you reliably learn from your mistakes.

There are so many things that people can do, both in their personal and professional lives, to resolve a conflict without the conversation getting tense, uncomfortable and argumentative. Conflicts that become arguments are generally never productive, as they fail to resolve the conflict, and rather create disdain amongst the two people. The goal of any conflict is that the message is understood, both people have gained what they desire in a respectful manner, the conflict is resolved and there is confidence that it will not happen again. In order to do this, remember to remain calm, collected, positive and understanding when speaking to another who you are either accusing or being accused by. After all, respect is everything. Give others the respect you would want given to you. Additionally, be sure to listen, use your words wisely and do all you can to prevent any tension from building up. Simply, words hurt, and there are a handful of other great things you can do to resolve a conflict in a healthy way. As you learn more in relationships, you will learn words that hurt words that heal.

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