Since we have established and accepted that conflict is part of life, the reasonable thing to do therefore is to device a means of handling it with little consequences. This on its own is one of the things that make life very interesting; ability to solve problems and move on.
Having said that, the life span, peace, strength and depth of a relationship depend to a great extent on the ability of the people involved to manage their differences and challenges.
Some lovely unions got split just because someone was not tactful enough in handling its crisis. It’s embarrassing to say that most people are taken by surprise when conflict emerge – they thought the relationship was too sweet to go sour but that; we should know is a lie.
In as much as no one prays for conflict to happen, it’s wise to know that it can and will happen someday. Conflict they say is inevitable..
Reactions most often gives rise to disagreement than the main issue at hand. Your response to situations and people determines how soon the problem at hand can be resolved. Again, people’s reactions are guided or inspired by a whole lot of factors: including accumulated grievances and malice, thus finding the slightest medium to explode or express dissatisfaction/displeasure.
Being able to handle conflict therefore will lean on certain principles…
The principle of proper communication:
More than half of the time, conflict occur as a result of poor communication. This might take the form of misunderstanding of information, misrepresentation, misinterpretation or mismanagement. Solving a problem at hand will then require going to the drawing board – what caused it in the first instance?
Apart from trying to understand the disposition of the characters involved, addressing the;
4 and where the problem started could be a right step to achieving success.
• How; This explains the nature of conflict.
• Why; This will centre on the trigger of the problem.
•When; Are there certain situations that cause or fuel conflict?
•Where; The location as at when things happened can go a long way to determine how the other party will react. For instance, some people do not like to be corrected where junior colleagues or younger folks are.
The ‘Shadow’ principle; Whether you are called in to help dispute a matter or you are directly involved, putting yourself in the position of the other person can help you appreciate why they behaved in a certain way. Using the ‘if I were in his shoes’ approach can be very challenging but you sometimes get quick result when you borrow the other person’s pair of glasses.
Objectivity principle; Being objective is closely related to putting yourself in the same position but different in the sense that you allow the reasoning and disposition of other people to see the light of day. There is no brass ceiling placed over anybody- their opinion is treated as an option or a personal choice instead of deviation/rebellion.
Principle of fair treatment; Having the mind to do to others what you would love them do to you is key in human relationships. If you ever stop to imagine how you would love to be treated if you were the one involved in the situation at hand, you’ll find it easier to temper justice with mercy. Remember that although people may be wrong, they still retain the right to live and be treated well until proven otherwise.
Principle of consequences; There are situations that trying to get to the root of the matter might cause more harm than allowing it to die. Some situations are better left the way they are; giving forgiveness a chance to prevail rather than complicate issues in the process of unearthing facts. A woman caught sight of her husband’s car in a shopping area where she was not expecting him, she monitored his activities from far and saw another woman transferring bags from his boot to a taxi packed beside it and finally: he came out to smooch a kiss and returned to the car while the lady went home in the taxi. When his wife approached him, he apologised and promised never to do such again but she insisted on knowing the woman he was spending time with. When he finally told her it was her best friend, she got so disturbed and developed a terrible sickness later in life.
Address issues not the person; People tend to build defence and sometimes attack you once they perceive you want to run down their personality. No one really enjoys insult – not even a child. Make your point clear without humiliating the person. It’s wiser to express the way you feel rather than dwell on what the other person did. You can say stuff like; ‘I really felt humiliated’. and not ‘You really humiliated me’. What if the fellow did not do it to humiliate you? Your feelings can stem from your perception and might not always be right. Dwell on what went wrong in the process not what somebody did not do well. You are likely to get settlement and sometimes apologies if you play the cards well. Avoid name-calling.
Don’t uncover the past; Nothing cripples settlement like opening up old wounds. If you want to move forward, let your partner know that they are forgiven and try not to judge them by past mistakes and decisions.
Show understanding & respect – control voice tone.
Demonstrate true concern and desire for peace.
Accept your fault and promise to change.
Act in love even though you are upset.
Offer forgiveness and apologies properly and genuinely.
Find a unique way to get back into romance – let life continue.
Written by Shatu Fori
A student of Mass Communication
University of Maiduguri