Conflicts happen. And disagreements. And little tiffs. And spats. And some heated exchanges. Are they avoidable? Probably. Not always. Do they need a resolution? Yes, always. Is confrontation a way to resolution? Yes. And let me tell you, it’s a good one.
But first of all, if you want to resolve a disagreement then you need to accept that there is a chance that things may not work the way you’re envisioning them and you may have to agree to disagree. Trust me, it sounds hostile to agree to disagree but it is actually a legitimate way to end an ongoing battle of words. It is a conclusion of sorts. It is also a way to register your disagreement without totally surrendering to someone’s argument. Saying it like we genuinely mean it makes it sound much more sincere than we think.
The next step to establish is that conflict resolution is a positive process with no room for negative vibes or comments. Using inflammatory speech doesn’t get us anywhere. I know that the Pakistani way of conflict-solving is to become just as emotional as the people directly involved but keep your cool if you want to be solving this disagreement whether you are or aren’t directly involved.
Another important bit sometimes is to make a list of grievances. Of course the person who can best achieve this is a neutral party who has equal affiliations to both sides. This minimizes bias and leads to better and quicker resolution also.
Now why do I think confrontation is a good way to help with constantly butting heads?
Confrontation doesn’t always have to be a negative experience or a negative process. Confrontation can also be honest, raw and holistic. It can be cleansing, nourishing and fortifying. The negative connotation given to confrontation has taken away from how it can be used as a valuable tool to have healthy two-way debates and discussions without getting offended.
We suck at confrontation, right? I think part of this is because we confront in two ways. Either timidly, half-heartedly, thinking that we are in a battlefield without weapons. Or brazenly, nastily and aggressively. May I say they both fail to achieve good results usually?
Can I give a tip that has helped me immensely with confronting positively?
The tip is……… don’t confront like you’re holding someone on trial. Like you want them to admit to something. Like you have already made up your mind and are just waiting for a confession. Confront the disagreement. Don’t confront the person. Solicit their side of things calmly and like you genuinely want to know their take. This, my friends, can change the whole look of the conversation that will follow.
And again I’ll go off on a tangent about the human connection.
See the human connection is crucial to understanding the other, the unknown, that person, their motive, why they lashed out, how to counter them, how to put our point across. If two people address anything without conviction and a real thirst for answers, the problem isn’t solved.
Similarly, even when we have a difference of opinion with someone and we want to be heard, we have to extend the same opportunity to our friend. We have to make them feel heard too. This builds connection and opens communication. When you open communication, you start resolution of a difference. When you start resolution in this purely organic way, you start to heal from the emotional effects that the difference your opinions had while holding your differences with conviction. What you do is you remove the emotional discomfort with the knowledge that you two differ.
Let’s be honest! No one likes to disagree. No one likes to be astringent. And certainly no one likes to come off like an ass hole. But you might have noticed that lack of emotion can make all of this happen in a disagreement. For example, internet arguments. There isn’t direct emoting so there isn’t a lot of human connection. You can add emoticons but the value and flavor that a face to face conversation has, cannot he mimicked. We don’t have the facial expressions, the soft timbre of our voice when we are being gentle and reconciliatory and our body language to go with it. Add to it the phenomenon of commonly incorrectly used emojis and it can get mean fast. Emotion is an important part of making someone feel important and heard.
When you’ve confronted with honesty, sincerity and a palpable possible acceptance for your friend’s stance, you will see how things will change. They will follow your frequency of politeness and gentle confrontation of the problem. They won’t confront you. They’ll confront the problem too.
One of my best friends, a woman I’ve known for may be more than twenty years, and I communicated emotionally always. Time didn’t change our bond for this very reason. Distance didn’t change our bond. We recently met after decades and were the same friends. We used to have open disagreements and I don’t think I ever felt as close as I did with Sabina and Sakina to be open and vulnerable and cutting. But we also connected emotionally and answered emotion with emotion. What we did always do was talk about the problem. When we tried to solve something, we ignored the trivia about it and the petty details about it. We kept it focused on the problem .
I’m sad at many relationships that kinda fizzled out because I was too proud to resolve any conflict that I had. I learned very late that being able to resolve conflict is true power and it’s true healing. Now, some people are going to be who they are and won’t ever be receptive but most people are receptive.
Islam lays a lot of stress in resolving differences as soon as possible. In Islam, nothing is bigger than a genuine relationship. Islam teaches us صلہ رحمی and kindness to our relatives and loved ones. Islam teaches us to not be upset with people for prolonged periods of time and actually, make the first move to call a truce and amicably settle differences. The biggest message that Islam gives is peace and love. There is no place for unresolved feelings in our religion.