How to Resolve Conflict with a Friend
August 11, 2011 Leave a comment
The key to friendship is knowing how to resolve conflict.
Not many people go through life without having a dispute or experiencing conflict with family and friends. It’s natural given that we each have our own beliefs, life experiences, childhood wounds, and present-time perspectives. We’re not always going to see life through the same lens as our friends, and occasionally we may trigger each other, push each other’s hot buttons, and feel as though we’re at an impasse.
If you were raised with good conflict resolution skills then you’ll know how to navigate through the pitfalls of friendship in order to regain harmony. But if you’re like most people, you picked up your social skills by trial and error, modeling dysfunctional family members, trying to do the best you can with the tools you have.
Here are some additional tips and tools for you to explore in resolving conflict with a friend.
Be clear about the issue. Sometimes we react without knowing what is really bothering us. If you are hurt or angry with a friend, take some time to source out the real issue. Notice your feelings and then explore what underlies them. For example, if you blame your friend for being self-absorbed, perhaps you haven’t set clear boundaries, or you give too much attention to others and not enough to yourself (sometimes our hurt feelings reflect our relationship to ourselves not the other person).
Gain insight into your friend’s feelings. If your friend is upset with you, take time to listen to their feelings and explore what is going on underneath the issue. As well, use your insight and intuition to see the bigger picture. For example, if your friend feels betrayed because you won’t take sides on a debate between her and another friend of yours, perhaps old childhood wounds have been triggered within her. Seeing this may help you to have compassion.
Imagine your friend’s perspective. It’s easy to see an issue from our perspective, but there are always two sides to a conflict. Take a break from rehashing your side and imagine what it’s like from your friend’s perspective. How would you feel and react if you were her in this situation (imagine her beliefs, wounds, and life experiences to get a sense of how she sees things). This will give you a balanced perspective.
Communicate clearly from the heart. If we debate an issue from our intellect only, we risk getting caught in blame and judgment, seeing only through right/wrong, good/bad perspectives. When we connect to our heart, we see the other person and the conflict through the eyes of love. We step out of blame and into resolution as we know that relationships are here to help us grow and evolve. The issue itself takes a back seat to the affinity we feel for the other person. So as you communicate, place a hand over your heart, or silently ask your heart what it wants to say.
I hope these suggestions help you to get your friendship back on track. But feel free to ask more specific questions on how to resolve conflict with your friend in the comment section.