Kill Conflict Dead

Arguments are all too easy to fall into. Don’t “act first and consider later”. Instead, take a moment to consider the three stages to staying on the right side of the situation:

photo by ragesoss

1. Stop the Gossip and Start to Talk

Most of us can probably remember a time when we were moaning about something that annoyed us. It needn’t be a big issue, just a slight annoyance that we want to get off our chest. And it’s not limited to people we don’t get on with either.

Unfortunately, a lot of moans turn into bitching sessions. Before you know it, you’ve got an issue with a pretty good friend and you’re finding a lot of negative stuff to say about them.

A tiny seed of annoyance grows into a reason to dislike a person. No wonder I’ve seen several close relationships end, yet neither party really understood how the problem came to be in the first place.

2. Take a Time Out

When you’re unhappy about a particular situation, give yourself a chance to let things settle in. Acting on impulse is crazy, because you won’t have allowed reason to kick in.

I’ve just explained the need to start talking, but it’s important to talk with a reasonable outlook. Nothing off the cuff will do.

A time out simply prepares you and allows you to consider your view outside the heat of the moment. In doing so, you have the opportunity to focus on the final stage…

photo by [simply].shambolic

3. Look at the Other Person’s Perspective

Whether or not you’re in conflict with a person, we could all benefit from considering how a situation looks from another person’s point of view.

Conflicts all too often occur because we get wrapped up in our own lives. Not enough thought goes into the wants, needs, and beliefs of others.

Before launching into any situation, it’s good practice to explore what other people might be thinking about and why they act the way they do.

You’re not going to be able to read their mind or fully understand the situation, but your consideration works on other levels:

  • It helps you step back calmly from your own opinion;
  • You realise that not everyone thinks just like you;
  • This unleashes your creativity to an extent…imagining what it’s like to be in someone else’s shoes.

While it’s unlikely you’ll suddenly change your mind and see eye to eye, at least you will come a little closer to accepting differences. It’s perfectly plausable that you’ll still find the other party behaving unacceptably, but at least you will have come to that conclusion from a more reasoned approach.


And if you do still feel angry, remember to take deep breaths in and out, really feeling that air lifting you up. And there’s nothing wrong with testing your own patience by holding your tongue and counting to 10 (or 100, or 1000, or however long it takes to relax!).

If you consumed alcohol at the time of an argument and were too drunk to follow the three stages, be prepared to apologise, even if it wasn’t entirely your fault. Don’t be stubborn with the old, “They started it, so they can come to me first”. It doesn’t do anyone any good.

A true conflict requires more than one person, so you still owe it to yourself to maintain a responsible attitude. That way, you won’t look unreasonable in your actions, no matter what the outcome.


  1. Wow…superb site. Just found it via a link from Mindful Ink. I’ve added you to my RSS feeds since I have a strong interest in blogs that are directed toward the college crowd.

    In consideration of this post, I’ve seen and personally experienced the benefit of the timeout. You can’t resolve anything if someone is overly emotional and too intense. You need to have a level head on both sides of the issue if you expect to get anywhere.

  2. @Tim, welcome to the blog and thanks for your kind words.

    I’ve now found your site, thanks to hearing from you. It’s good stuff and I’ve now subscribed to your feed too.

    I’ve been asked in the past why I write this blog. My answer is usually, “Because students rule”. It’s good to see we’re on the same wavelength there!

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