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Q: What should I do when my friend and I disagree about something that’s a part of daily life?
This question presents a great opportunity for a shameless plug for the askCHR program, where you can discuss your relationship questions, problems, potentials, frustrations, etc. with one of our coaches. We would love to discuss your specific situation and find a solution that works for you, user2319, during an askCHR appointment. But, for now, let’s get you an applicable answer in this column.
Here at CHR, we teach people about conflict management because managing conflict well can lead to healthier relationships. Aggressive conflict, or avoiding it altogether, usually leads to poor relationships and weaker connections with others. A key part of managing conflict is to see conflict as a way towards growth in the relationship. This will help you focus on how a conflict can help the relationship grow, rather than seeing it as only a threat to be avoided or vanquished at any cost.
With that positive view, you can seek to understand your friend and why they have a different opinion than you. The key here is to seek understanding and try to truly see your friend’s point of view. You don’t have to agree with it to understand it. If your friend thinks cats are better than dogs and you listen to his/her reasons and empathically step into their “shoes,” you can still know that dogs are the best.
Imagine someone trying to understand you, and it is likely that the image in your head is a peaceful, patient, gentle and controlled person. If you picture someone avoiding you (then they’re not even there…) or lecturing you about how you are wrong and they are right, then the fruits of the Spirit don’t come to mind. When you bring up the disagreement with your friend, start from a place of really trying to understand his/her perspective.
Hopefully this will help your disagreement/conflict have a positive tone that seeks to grow in understanding one another and the friendship. But the final bit for this column is to remember that only some conflicts can be resolved while others need to be managed. If you and your friend can resolve the conflict after you understand one another by agreeing, that’s great!
An uncomfortable part of life and relationships is that, even after taking the time to understand each other, people can still disagree. Recognizing this allows you to manage the conflict when it “flares up” and continue a relationship that is even stronger because it can engage in disagreement and grow. Some disagreements can’t be solved or won, but they don’t have to destroy friendships.
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