ometimes, we say and do things we don’t really mean when we’re under pressure. In these moments, intentionally or not, we might have offended someone. When this happens, it can seem like the end of the world. Whether it was a close friend, family member, or even someone at school or work, these things can happen and having to navigate conflict resolution is a normal part of life. 

Keeping your manners in a situation, and by pushing to remain calm, you can get through any situation. Conflict resolution is a normal part of everyday life and most people might not realize how often we need to have difficult conversations. 85% of both individual contributors and leaders agreed they experienced some amount of inevitable conflict at work. 29% of all employees said that they experienced almost constant conflict. If this has happened to you, here are some ways to mitigate the damage. 

Disagreements and conflict happen. It's perfectly normal, and disagreements don’t have to always be divisive. Sometimes it can feel like the end of the world when having a difficult conversation, but in the end, you’ll likely be better for it. Photo courtesy of Pexels.

Approach the situation with an open mind 

Ask yourself, am I going into the conversation with an open mind? This way,you won't project any of your insecurities or strong opinions onto the other person. When you are telling them that they are completely valid in their feelings this is a good sign. If you respond by guilting them, or by saying that they had no right to feel the way they did then you most definitely are part of the problem here.

By taking on the situation with accountability and by being honest with yourself and with the other person about your mistake, not only will you make the situation go as smoothly as possible, but they will respect you for that. Even if this situation doesn't end up turning out with you staying very close to this person the least you can do is maintain mutual respect.

Apologize, when necessary 

For many people our pride wants to get in the way of apologizing. It can be difficult to realize you made a mistake let alone admit to it. It takes bravery and courage to stand up and say ‘yes I made a mistake oh, and I'm ready to be held accountable.’ Going back to the previous point, if you get too defensive when apologizing then it won't seem genuine, make sure that you are actually meaning what you're saying to this person and aren't just saying it to butter them up.

Also apologize for your mistakes but try not to make a huge deal out of your own feelings especially when the other person is the victim. By this I mean don't make a situation about you when it offended someone else.

Make sure to stay present – active listening starts with a conscious effort to focus on what the other person says in a conversation. People will know when you aren’t paying attention to their words. Photo courtesy of Pexels.

Listen to what the other person has to say

After you apologize, take a pause and listen to what they have to say. If the offense that you did to them was very inexcusable or it will take them time to forgive you, give them the space that is necessary to voice their boundaries. Listening is the most important part because they listened to you and your apology, so the least that you can do is give that same energy back to them by doing the same.

Validate their feelings 

As you're listening to the person voice their concerns and boundaries, it's best to also validate their feelings and let them know that they have every right to feel the way that they do. don't say or do it just because you think it's the right thing to say but honestly mean it and don't hold grudges against them. 

A lot of the time people might say they're going to do things because it's what people want to hear rather than actually having their actions reflect those things. If you used to be someone that had little respect for others, it is your responsibility to live with what you did.

Another key point in validating their feelings is by understanding that they don't have to forgive you. If you can understand that some people might not ever be able to forget what happened between you, you'll be able to walk away from the situation with your baggage of what you did and the tools to be able to bring yourself back from that. By that I mean if they can't forgive you then try to be a better person every single day and everything you do from that day forward. Or make a deal with yourself to understand that it will never be okay but you don't have to hate yourself for it forever.

Don’t get defensive 

If you're able to calm yourself down enough, don't get defensive about the situation because you're just going to make it worse. If the person is visibly upset with you, don't match that reaction and try to remain calm. By physically controlling your breathing and your body's reaction to what is going on you'll be able to maintain a calm and cool composure while also not  attaching yourself to their stressful reaction.

Healthy communication means that you need to be clear about what you want to communicate. By making your message clear, the other person hears it accurately and understands what you mean. Talk about what is happening and how it affects you. Talk about what you want, need and feel – use 'I' statements such as 'I need', 'I want,' and 'I feel'.Photo courtesy of Pexels.

Have healthy communication 

By remaining calm and not getting defensive you'll be able to have healthy communication. Even if the other person continues to be visibly upset, they have every right to that reaction and you also have every right to yours. By this I mean some people express their forgiveness or their emotions in a different way than others and that's okay. Some people don't physically show their emotions but more so things come out in their voice and manner of speech. When you are able to physically control your body then you're also able to make for the best reaction. 

Make up clear boundaries 

If you guys are able to come up with some agreement after the situation starts to dial down make sure you both understand your boundaries moving forward. We previously talked about boundaries but I can't stress enough how important they are because without boundaries, there isn't any trust. I'm not saying to bring the entire wall between you and that person, but by voicing the things that upset you and ending by saying don't do that again you aren't pushing that person away but rather pulling them closer to understanding you.

Odds are, the person will respect you more if you're able to voice your boundaries as well as listen to their own. This creates an environment of mutual respect and understanding despite what might have transpired between you. Again, people make mistakes, some are more drastic  than others, and we especially make these mistakes when we aren't thinking clearly.

Let them know it was unintentional 

Remind them that it doesn't discount what happened but it was not intentional or intended to upset them. I would only say this when you think it's necessary. If someone is able to also let you know about their personal past to further understand how this experience might have triggered them, invite them to share that. It's really important to have open communication between people. It can be very easy to offend someone and if you don't have the right people skills in order to do proper conflict resolution, then you aren't going to get anywhere.

It can be stressful to have these difficult conversations, but confrontation is an everyday aspect of life as an adult. Sometimes we make mistakes, and it’s best not to dwell on them for too long, especially if it’s a minor incident. Hopefully, you can have a conversation with the people you had a disagreement with, and eventually, move on. 

Dec 10, 2021