Conflict is inevitable - but the fact that it’s inevitable doesn’t make navigating it any easier. Whilst avoiding conflict can feel tempting in the face of disagreement, bottling up our emotions is known to have a serious impact on our mental and physical wellbeing. What’s more is that biting our tongue rarely leads us to any kind of resolution, instead, trying to suppress our grievances only allows them to grow more fervently. Think of the Venemous Tentacula in Harry Potter!
So, whether it’s in work, love or friendship, daring to disagree with the people in our life is important for our wellbeing and for the future of our relationships. Are you worried about how to disagree without causing World War 3? We’ve got it covered in just four easy steps to manage conflict better.
Acknowledge challenging feelings
Covering our eyes and ears to the storm raging won’t make it disappear. It will be impossible to resolve with others, anything which we don’t acknowledge within ourselves. Being aware of what we’re feeling will increase our understanding of both ourselves and those we’re in conflict with. Whilst we often don’t want to engage with emotions we might consider ‘negative’ (anger, frustration, resentment) acknowledging them is the first part of letting them go. Be a little curious as to why this issue has triggered such feelings in us.
Plan it out
If we find disagreeing with people fills us with a sense of dread, make a plan about what to say and think through when a good time might be to bring the issue up. Let’s make sure you’re clear about what exactly it is we want to resolve ahead of the conversation, to prevent ourselves from rehashing old disputes. Just think how much better it will feel once we’ve come out the other side.
Resolve issues as they arise
Having a plan can be useful, but sitting on unresolved conflict for months is going to have a detrimental impact on our wellbeing and grow resentment towards the person we’re in conflict with. This will make our eventual conversation all-the-more fraught and trickier to navigate with a calm head. Instead, try to be upfront with how you feel, particularly when disagreeing - disagreement doesn’t have to mean conflict.
Think of conflict as a creative engine
When we think of disagreeing with someone, we often see ourselves on opposing sides of a ‘fight’. It’s reassuring to remember some of the greatest creations were born out of conflict (just look at Fleetwood Mac)! It can be helpful to recognise that you’re both likely wanting the same outcome (a loving relationship/a productive work environment/a fun birthday party) but may have different approaches to getting there. This helps us to avoid blaming or accusing the other and allows the conflict to be steered towards a mutually agreed outcome.
When it comes to conflict, remember: the only way out is through! Engaging in conflict is a natural and healthy part of what it means to be in relationships with other people (be they professional, romantic, or familial). So, in order to take good care of our wellbeing it’s important we work out ways to embrace conflict without collapsing or catastrophising. What do you think – do you dare to disagree?