I’ve attended several professional seminars throughout my career that have discussed how to manage conflict in our professional roles, and while they had great strategies to use (I’ve tried them all!), I’ve learned through personal experience that most conflict is typically not about the current event or issue that seems to have caused the argument, rather it is about (mis)communication and (lack of) trust. Communication can be tricky, especially if people are not comfortable with being vulnerable and open to hearing your version of the truth, which many people are not. I use the term “your truth” because truth can be relative. My truth speaks to who I am; my core values and worldview, while someone else’s truth may be completely different. It is not always a “right” or “wrong” situation. Speaking your truth can sometimes come across as being confrontational, and can make some people even more angry. I have felt this way also, but now that I’ve gotten older and much more experienced with pissing people off, and being pissed off in return, I find that speaking my truth can be very freeing. It (often) relieves the burden of holding onto pain, anger, and resentment, which over time, can be exhausting. However, if you have the ability and opportunity to just say what needs to be said, it can open up a dialog about what is (really) bothering you, and preventing you from moving forward.
I try to approach conflict with honesty and vulnerability but it doesn’t always go well. Sometimes the situation completely backfires, and things end up worse than when they started, regardless of my intentions to make things better. The fact is, we each have our own version of the truth, and talking openly about it is a good first step to having closure and resolving conflict. Life is too short to hold onto grudges. In the end, we are only responsible for our own action, or inaction. The important thing is that you tried… if you care at all, you must try. Being honest with others, in a sincere, thoughtful, and nonjudgemental way, can bridge the communication gap, and strengthen the friendship/relationship. If the end result is that you “agree to disagree”, I consider it a win-win.