Do you ever find yourself in a situation where you thought you were communicating rather well with somebody else, only to soon realize that the topic of conversation had taken a turn for the worse? What started off as a pretty normal honest conversation turned into a heated debate. I think this happens to most of us more than we like to admit, and maybe a bit too often for our liking.

When people take things personally during conflict, they will naturally want to defend themselves. They may even become loud and say things to either evoke a response from you, or to hurt you deliberately. On the other hand, maybe you are guilty of being told way too many times “you’re not listening to what I am trying to say!”, meaning you are hearing the words, but you are listening with the intent to react, to fight, to defend, or attack as opposed to listening for the sake of truly understanding. Maybe you take what other people say as a personal attack and feel the constant need to protect yourself by defending your actions. However if we constantly choose to respond and behave like this, we will soon find that no one will want to interact with us, and we might as well start talking to the birds in the trees.


If we put more of our focus on listening well, we would know how to respond and communicate with others well. Here are a few tips and questions to help you when it comes to navigating your way wisely through conflict: 


Am I open to listening to others? Do I show this in my face, in my tone of voice and in my body language? Or do I look defensive, guarded, a bit rigid like a statue that’s about to crack? Am I open, relaxed, ready to listen, and to listen well? Conflict naturally makes us feel tense, but we must learn to remain calm, in order to think calmly and rationally before we respond. Having an open stance, allows those that are sharing to feel safe in our presence.


Do I listen before responding to others? Or am I constantly interrupting, and interjecting before letting others finish off their trail of thought? Sometimes, we react and cut others off by quickly defending ourselves without truly listening to the full context of what it is they are saying and feeling. We may even start to assume the worst mid conversation, and feel the need to defend, when the best thing we could do for the other person and for ourselves is to sit still and listen fully.


Do I acknowledge and respect the thoughts and feelings of others? Or do I dismiss it? Whether you are having conflict with a friend, spouse, family member, or a co-worker, that relationship needs to have a foundation of love and respect for the other person. When people feel truly heard, they will feel respected and loved, therefore they will show the same respect and love towards you. Don’t disregard or dismiss what others have to say, make them feel safe to share.


When I respond, am I responding with love? Or am I wanting to hurt the other person? If your motive and intention is to seek resolve, clarity and peace during conflict and you are doing it with love, I believe you will overcome the issues. When love leads us, we seek to solve and fix the issues instead of wanting to attack others.


Do I own my part in any of it? Or am I constantly shifting the blame and constantly redirecting the conversation, instead of owning up to my mistakes. No one is perfect, therefore we will make mistakes, and that’s okay. Learn from them, own it, and apologize sincerely, then move forward. That in itself speaks volumes of your character, as you are open to learning and growing through conflict.

Be brave and humble enough to learn from others. Be open, and always remember to speak the truth in love with the deepest respect for those in your presence. Make sure that together you are overcoming the issues, and that you are both actively working on areas that will intentionally bring resolve and peace.