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How to Navigate Conflict, Respectfully

How to Navigate Conflict, Respectfully

Election season is upon us, and the holidays approach close ahead. During this time of year, and in many other situations, patience can run thin, and no matter how close you are to family and friends, there will inevitably be points of tension. Various conflicts can arise from differences in experience, perspectives, personalities, and beliefs. One of the most important things to remember in these moments is your personal well-being and mental health.

Remember to stay calm, and, while anger can be a normal response to conflict, it should not be the emotion that drives one’s actions. Be an active listener rather than spending the conversation judging the other person and their statements. Even if you disagree, do your best to understand where they are coming from. Try to respect different opinions, or, if a difference of opinion falls outside of your core values and beliefs, do your best to maintain respect outwardly, even if internally you feel different. Consider the bigger picture and create safe boundaries. Learn more about these pieces of advice here: 5 Tips to Help Navigate Family Conflicts – Jefferson Center – Mental Health and Substance Use Services (

While conflict is unavoidable, how you approach to conflict is what’s most important. Below are some additional tips on handling conflict in a positive and respectful way.

  1. Be concise. Keep the message clear and simple.
  2. Use “I” Statements when communicating understanding and/or setting personal boundaries.
  3. Take deep breaths and count to three in your head if you are feeling upset.
  4. Listen actively. Part of handling conflict is letting the other person know that they are heard.
  5. Don’t feel obligated to engage. It is your right to walk away. Try to do so respectfully. For example, “I hear you, but I feel it is best that I walk away at this time.”
  6. Redirect or don’t respond to questions that are meant to challenge, attack, or elicit a strong response from you.
  7. Walk away and seek support if you feel you are in any sort of emotional or physical danger.
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