Ways to effectively approach conflict resolution

Here are some tried and true ways to say sorry, while protecting hurt feelings

(kiliweb / Open Food Facts, edited by Kristen Frier)

(kiliweb / Open Food Facts, edited by Kristen Frier)

Having conflicts with others is a normal part of life. A little misunderstanding here and there can keep a relationship healthy because it gives room for growth and compromise.

However, there will always come a time that you would say “enough,” and standing up for yourself is the only option, though one wrong move, tone, or word can give you a good scolding or the silent treatment for weeks. So, what can you do to avoid that? The first step is to apologize, even if you don’t immediately feel sorry.

Growing up in a household with your family can pose a disadvantage when it comes to working through conflicts. Parents will always be right even when they are wrong, and it’s the other way around for their kids.

For an indirect approach, making them food and performing helpful acts of service are your best friends. These are proven and tested methods for a chance to dodge a bullet.

You can buy them their favourite snack, a tub of ice cream, or a box of chocolates with a “sorry” note, which can help communicate your intentions without fully diving into an awkward conversation. 

You can also cook lunch or dinner for them, or do them a favour or any other act of service. Parents love seeing their kids doing chores on their own initiative, and taking these things off their plate can reduce their stress levels, save them energy, and they might forgive you faster.

Anything you can organize and clean, do it. You can clean the dishes, do their laundry, or wipe the dust off the furniture. This diverts their attention to your deeds and can be seen as your desire for reconciliation without saying anything. 

Now, if you are bold enough, you simply act like nothing happened. This indirect approach is a risk, but it works when you combine it with space. Giving yourselves space lets the argument die down and allows for self-reflection on both sides. This method is preferable for little arguments, like when you forget to turn on the rice cooker or accidentally spilled bubble tea inside the car.

Last but not least: have a conversation and address the elephant in the room. It may be the most challenging method, but this will help you move past the problem without any grudges or hidden feelings. 

Approach them in a subtle way by sitting beside them while watching television or asking them if they ate lunch or dinner already. Then, that’s the time you start talking about it. A simple sentence would do, no need for a speech. A key idea to keep in mind is to take responsibility for your part, and listen to the other person and keep calm even if they are being unfair or mean. Apologizing for raising your tone or for saying things you did not mean when getting carried away is a good thing to remember

Saying sorry even when you feel you are in the right can feel like a punch in the stomach, but it does not match the gruelling pain from a broken relationship with your parents, siblings, or close friends. Like everything else, conflicts can be properly resolved as long as both parties are willing to. 

Taking responsibility for shortcomings makes you the bigger person, and fixing things lets them see how you value your bond with them.