Conflict is a natural part of any relationship, but it can be especially difficult to deal with when it comes to friendships. After all, our friends are the people we’re supposed to be able to count on, the people we trust the most. So when we have a big argument with a friend, it can feel like a betrayal.
But conflict doesn’t have to mean the end of a friendship. In fact, it can actually be an opportunity to strengthen the relationship. If we can learn to communicate effectively and listen to each other with empathy, we can resolve conflict in a way that makes our friendship stronger.
Here are some tips for resolving conflict between friends using communication and listening skills:
- Be willing to talk. The first step to resolving conflict is to be willing to talk about it. This may be difficult, especially if you’re feeling angry or hurt. But it’s important to remember that communication is the only way to resolve the conflict. You have to be vulnerable and communicate honestly.
- Listen actively. Communication is a two-way street, so you can’t just talk about your feelings. You also have to listen. When your friend is talking, really listen to what they have to say. Don’t interrupt, and don’t just wait for your turn to talk. Ask questions to understand their perspective and why they’re feeling the way they do.
- Use “I” statements. When you’re talking about your own feelings, use “I” statements. This will help to avoid blaming or attacking your friend. For example, instead of saying “You always make me feel bad,” you could say “I feel bad when you say that.”
- Focus on the problem, not on “winning”. It’s unlikely that you’ll agree on everything, so you’ll need to work together to find a solution that works for both of you. Remember that the goal is to resolve the conflict, not to “win”. Try to frame the conversation as you both working together on a team against a problem, not the two of you competing against each other to see who’s right.
- Apologize if you need to. If you made a mistake, be willing to apologize. This will help to rebuild trust and repair the friendship.
In addition to these tips, it’s also important to remember the following:
- Choose the right time and place to talk. Don’t try to have a difficult conversation in a public place or when you’re both feeling stressed or tired. Find a time and place where you can both relax and focus on the conversation.
- Don’t expect to resolve the conflict in one conversation. It may take time and several conversations to fully resolve the conflict. Be patient and keep working at it.
All of these tips are dependent on both people wanting to resolve the conflict. If your friend won’t talk to you, no amount of helpful advice will make a difference. But if your friend is willing, using the two tips above to establish expectations can really set the stage for success.
Here are some additional tips for communicating and listening effectively:
- Be clear and direct. When you’re talking to your friend, be clear and direct about what you’re feeling and what you need. Avoid beating around the bush or using vague language.
- Be respectful. Even if you’re angry or upset, it’s important to be respectful of your friend. Avoid name-calling, insults, or other personal attacks. The better we know someone, the easier it is to hide hidden barbs in our words that we know will sting. Don’t do it.
- Be open to feedback. Be willing to listen to your friend’s feedback and consider their perspective. This doesn’t mean that you have to agree with them, but it does mean that you should be open to hearing what they have to say.
- Be willing to change. It’s fairly rare that a conflict is 100% one person’s fault. Even when we don’t want to admit it, we are probably partially to blame. If you’re part of the problem, be willing to change your behavior. This may mean apologizing, making amends, or doing something different in the future.
By following these tips, you can learn to communicate and listen effectively, which will help you to resolve conflict between friends in a healthy and productive way.