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Conflict is a natural part of life among humans, yet it is usually the source of pain in many relationships because of the way most of us handle and react to conflict.

Conflict is an inevitable part of life. As a matter of fact conflict could be a useful tool for fuelling momentum in life, depending on how we perceive and respond to it. In every conflict we have a choice or choices to make. It’s in our will power to always listen beyond an attack and perceive the real root issue in the conflict. We have to unlearn certain mindsets and learnt responses build over a period of time. Conflict doesn’t have to be destructive. Actually conflict could be a place of creativity and possibilities. Conflict is not necessarily about winning, but rather about moving forward together. Whenever we learn how to positively use conflict, it becomes a connection factor instead of a divisive factor.
There is actually power in conflict to transform us, our communities and the world around us. Conflict is really about what is in the depths of our minds and hearts, independence, responsibility, accountability, beliefs, values, perceptions, defensiveness, negativity, pride etc. Managing conflict usually starts at the point where we learn how to be positive or find something positive in the other person. In dealing with conflict one has to be always specific about issues at hand and not mix up a lot of things. Usually conflict is a manifestation of unmet needs.

The resolution of conflict starts by first clearly articulating the need and understanding it. Then we must find out whether the need can be or cannot be met. If that particular need cannot be met, then we must go into negotiations and compromises. If negotiations and talks do not produce results, then we must rope in the third person before things get out of hand. When things get out of hand, aggression, gossip, anger, backstabbing, fear, sulking and withdrawing become the game of the day. Unresolved conflict blocks meaningful communication, stalls progress, kills happiness and creates a bad and judgmental environment. There are several ways to approach conflict. We can either avoid the conflict by ignoring it or doing nothing about it. To avoid means to keep away from, to keep clear of, to shun or to abstain from dealing or talking about the issues at hand. This may work or not work depending on the seriousness of the conflict. We may actually be postponing and prolonging the problem.

We can also approach the conflict by being accommodating. Accommodating is the act of fitting in or adapting by adjusting. It is an adjustment of differences in order to come to a point of agreement, reconciliation or settlement. Sometimes people approach conflict by competing or dominating others using power, rank, money, influence, intimidation and pressure others to submit to what they want, or to get what they want. This approach may work in a battlefield or in an emergency situation, but in relationships and non-emergency situations it may lead to bullying. One may win the conflict using this approach, but it will be at a high price, and may create more conflicts in the future.
 The other way of dealing with conflict is compromising. This is where both parties get some of what they want. This approach does not usually bring about a lasting solution to the conflict especially if the issues are emotionally charged. It will take maturity in both parties to amicably accept the compromises without popping them up later.

One of the effective ways of dealing with conflict is collaboration. Collaboration may produce a win win outcome though it may take time and require a lot of patience. To collaborate is to work together with another toward a common goal. It is to willingly cooperate with someone who seems to have occupied some territory belonging to you or has something belonging to you so that you can come out with positive results at the end of the day. This is challenging because it takes time and willingness to step into some messy areas; and requires a lot of listening to one another. Genuine listening to one another makes everyone feel seen, heard, valued and increases trust levels. This approach helps us understand, connect and trust each other more, inspite of our differences. Whatever approach we may take in dealing with conflicts, we must be willing and able to work through problems, use none threatening and none judgmental language in order to create a conducive atmosphere and environment for conflict resolution and reconciliation. We must also avoid attacking each other’s personalities, but instead deal with the source of the conflict. In every conflict we must avoid embracing the spirit of unforgiveness, anger and offence. Offence, anger and unforgiveness are the forces that trap us in our past, delay our breakthroughs, disconnect us from key important relationships, kill momentum to destiny and ultimately distort reality. Every conflict must pass through the process of being resolved. Unresolved conflicts are detrimental to progress in life.

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