Resolving Conflict in Friendships
Oops. The other day I had a bit of a falling out with my good friend Alissa. I told a guy she liked about a conversation we shared, not knowing she would be so offended by it. After my disagreement with Alissa, I realized that I had some decisions to make as to how I was going to deal with this conflict.
Yes, I had over-stepped my boundaries. No, I didn’t want to lose my three-year friendship with Alissa over a comment I made to the guy she liked. So now what? In my mind, the options were to let her go in hopes the problem would go away or to try to talk it out with her. I decided to attempt the confrontation.
Conflict. It’s a fact of life. It’s a fact in friendships. You develop a friendship with someone, and conflict is sure to occur.
Many superficial friendships end up being shelved after an argument because there isn’t enough depth to warrant all the trouble it takes to smooth over the disagreement. Unfortunately, even when the friendship reaches a deeper level, conflict continues to happen and can break apart a relationship.
- First and foremost, talk the situation over soon after it occurs. And do it soon! From my experience, people begin to talk about what happened even sooner afterwards.Good, step in the right direction, right? Well, not always… particularly when the talking isn’t with the person involved, but with other friends or acquaintances. People begin to pick sides. The gossip circulates and all of a sudden, friends become enemies. Suddenly everyone is mad at everyone else.So, be sure to talk with the person with whom you are upset without the interference of people who aren’t really involved.
- Resolve it the day it happens. One rule my parents follow in their marriage is that they don’t go to bed angry with each other. They always attempt to resolve things the day it happens so that in the morning, it’s a fresh start with no past grudges.I’ve found I need a short cool down period of a couple of minutes so that I don’t act in anger, so I can act with a more rational mind instead. For some, counting to one hundred before saying anything, may be an option.Whatever you do, don’t let things ride for too long.Even when you don’t see eye to eye, agree to disagree. Tell them that while you may not agree with what they’re saying, you still value their friendship.
- Try to see the other person’s perspective. Sometimes if you sit down and talk things over, you begin to see where the other person is coming from. Realize that everyone has been created differently with various talents, abilities and personality traits. For example, you might be a leader while your friend is more of a follower. You may be frustrated with him or her for not being very decisive. Yet it is important to understand that no matter what your quirks, each person is still unique and needs to be appreciated.
- Here’s a tough one – initiate resolution. Be the first person in a fight to say sorry for your part. Even when you think the other person is wrong, it’s not a bad thing to say “I’m sorry you feel that way” or “I’m sorry if I offended you in that way.”If you’re honest, genuine, and gentle in delivering your words, there’s a good chance your friend will reciprocate positively. Use feeling words as no one can argue with your feelings. For example, “When you do this, you make me feel silly.”
- Focus on the bigger picture. Successfully facing and working through the discomfort of conflict in a friendship has a worthwhile reward: a deeper relationship.
- Don’t accuse by using the word, “you.”
- Be sensitive. Try to offer solutions when appropriate, but know when to listen. Don’t underestimate the importance of a listening ear.
- Most important, be loving in what you do. Don’t go out to “get” the other person, but try to focus on peacefully resolving the disagreement.
Resolving conflict in any friendship is not the most pleasant task, but it is worth the hassle for the result on the other end is a deeper friendship.
Reprinted with permission from Iamnext.com.