How to keep calm when conflict strikes


Everyone encounters conflict sometime during the day. It might happen when you’re trying to get out the door by a certain time, and your teenager is adamant they will take their time in the bathroom.

Or perhaps it’s at work, when a colleague questions your decision. You may even encounter it with your spouse or partner on a regular basis.

Conflict is a part of life. And while some people try to avoid it at all costs, there are others who embrace it—perhaps even create it—because they relish in the back-and-forth.

Whether you have a love or hate relationship with conflict, it’s important that you learn how to deal with it healthily. That means not running from it, and not perpetuating it. Rather, it’s about using it as a tool to bring about a better conclusion for everyone involved.

All that to say—it’s not easy navigating conflict; which is why it’s essential you have the tools you need to deal with it.

This infographic by Cashnet USA shows us why our brain and body responds so readily to conflict, and gives us some handy tools to ease the tension when we sense ourselves (or someone else) having a heightened emotional response.

Choosing to take deep breaths, lowering your voice, changing your posture and even choosing to disengage are all helpful strategies when conflict strikes. Not only do they help you to reframe the situation, but they give the person you disagree with an opportunity to calm so you can find a peaceful resolution.

Take a look at the infographic below, and see what you learn about conflict. What step can you take home with you this week?


Do you run from conflict, or do you instigate it? Do you feel angry and struggle to maintain your composure during conflict? Here’s what you need to do: contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book on our online diary.

4 Steps to Manage Conflict



People either embrace conflict or run from it. How we deal with it shapes our relationships and wellbeing, and if an issue is left unresolved, it can damage our couple relationship, the family unit, friendships and our work environment.

If conflict is avoided, left unresolved or approached unhealthily, it can cause people to become hurt and angry. It adds to confusion and can keep us from taking advantage of new opportunities.

However, it does have advantages. Conflict is a natural part of life, and provokes things to change. Some life lessons can only be learned through conflict, and these scenarios can also give us a greater capacity to become flexible, patient and understanding people.

Next time conflict arises, follow these steps and make it a positive experience.

Step 1: Treat the person with respect
Whether you have a problem with your spouse or a stranger, remember that the person isn’t the issue—their behaviour is. Avoid using language that insinuates they are ‘bad,’ ‘wrong,’ or ‘stupid,’ and instead use inclusive words, which allow you to empathise with them.

Step 2: Listen until you experience the other side
When you enter conflict, remove the mindset that you must ‘win’ or prove that you are ‘right’. Instead, make it your goal to understand the other person’s thoughts and ideas. Actively listen to what they are saying, and appreciate what their words mean to them. Put yourself in their shoes by asking yourself how they are feeling and what prompted their actions.

Step 3: State your feelings, needs and views briefly
It is important that you express your point of view and concerns, but do so with empathy. Avoid loaded questions that will startle them or put them on the offensive, and be honest about your feelings. Take ownership of the fact that while their behaviour impacts you; you choose to feel a certain way. Don’t skirt around the edges, insinuating what you mean. Speak honestly and mean what you say.

Step 4: Move on to problem solving if needed

If your conflict requires an active solution, rather than just a mutual respect of each other’s opinions, begin problem solving together. Depending on the quality of your relationship, you may need a mediator or counsellor to help you through this process. Problem solving will help you to define the problem, identify possible solutions and evaluate the possibilities that come from these. Once you have decided on a solution together, begin to initiate it.

This blog was put together using information from the Victorian Youth Mental Health Alliance, the Gippsland Mentoring Alliance and the book ‘People Skills: How to assert yourself, listen to others and resolve conflicts’ by R Bolton (1986).

Do you struggle with conflict? Would you like a mediator to help you manage this in your couple, family or work-related relationships? Contact us on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10 minute discussion or go to BOOK ONLINE NOW and follow the prompts to make an appointment.

What’s Your Conflict Style?



People are often defined by how they approach conflict. Take a colleague at work who is terribly submissive and avoids confrontation. They are known as a ‘door mat’ and are treated as such by their colleagues and superiors. On the other hand, there are people who seem to seek out a fight. They raise their voice, provoke the people around them, and take any opportunity to prove they are ‘right’.

We all have our own approach to conflict. Whether you lean more towards being a submissive ‘turtle’ or an aggressive ‘shark’ depends on your disposition and how you grew up.

The fact is, the most healthy form of conflict style is somewhere in the middle. Someone who can enter conflict and seeks to find the best solution for themselves and the other person is an ideal model.

Below we have listed five different conflict styles. As you read through, identify which style you identify with. Perhaps it is facets of each, or maybe you align yourself strongly with one.

Compare this style with the ones following, and observe what areas you need to grow in. See how you can become more like the ‘Owl’ and what steps you can take to develop this approach.

The Turtle

Turtles withdraw into their shells to avoid conflict. They give up their personal goals and relationships. They stay away from the issues over which the conflict is taking place and from people with whom they are in conflict. Turtles believe it is hopeless to try and resolve conflicts. They feel helpless. They believe it is easier to withdraw (physically and psychologically) from conflict than to face it.

The Shark

Sharks try to overpower opponents by forcing them to accept their solution to conflict. Their goals are highly important to them and the relationship is of minor importance. They seek to achieve their goals at all costs. They are not concerned with the needs of other people. They do not care if other people like or accept them. Sharks assume that conflicts are settled by one person winning and one person losing. They want to be the winner. Winning gives sharks a sense of pride and achievement. Losing gives them a sense of weakness, inadequacy and failure. They try to win by attacking, overpowering, overwhelming and intimidating other people.

The Teddy Bear

To teddy bears, the relationship is of great importance, while their own goals are of little importance. Teddy bears want to be accepted and liked by other people. They think that conflict should be avoided in favour of harmony and believe that conflicts cannot be discussed without damaging relationships. They are afraid that if the conflict continues, someone will get hurt, and that would ruin the relationship. They give up their goals to preserve the relationship. Teddy bears say, “I’ll give up my goals, and let you have what you want, in order for you to like me.” Teddy bears try to smooth over the conflict in fear of harming the relationship.

The Fox

Foxes are moderately concerned about their own goals and about their relationship with other people. Foxes seek compromise. They give up part of their goals and persuade the other person in conflict to give up part of their goals. They seek a solution to conflicts where both sides gain something, the middle ground between two extreme positions. They are willing to sacrifice part of their goals and relationships in order to find agreement for the common good.

The Owl

Owls highly value their own goals and relationships. They view conflicts as problems to be solved and seek a solution that achieves both their own goals and the goals of the other person in conflict. Owls see conflict as improving relationships by reducing tension between two people. They try to begin a discussion that defines the conflict as a problem to be solved. By seeking solutions that satisfies both themselves and the other person, owls maintain the relationship. Owls are not satisfied until a solution is found that achieves their own goals and the other person’s goals. They are not satisfied until the tension and negative feelings have been fully resolved.

Do you struggle with conflict? Would you like to discuss how to maintain healthy relationships with the people around you? Here’s what you need to do: contact WatersedgeCounselling on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book in our online diary.

* The contents of this blog are taken from ‘You and Your Skills: Dealing with Conflict Handouts’.