Conflict is a natural and inevitable part of human existence. Conflict in itself is not bad. When handled properly, conflicts teach us to practice open-mindedness, tolerance, and compromise.
However, when handled poorly, conflict can easily escalate into verbal mud-slinging, finger-pointing, character assassination, and violent outbursts. The result is an unending cycle of “blaming-attacking-defending” wherein everyone ends up exhausted and disgruntled.
Conflicts are often a result of sheer pride and stubbornness. Just like children, some adults throw tantrums in order to make themselves feel powerful and in control. The conflict would have been easily avoided if the conflicting parties simply yielded and gave up in defending their hard-line stance.
Anger always carries with it the potential for psychological and physical injury towards others. Hence, it should always be tempered and must be expressed only in socially acceptable ways.
Psychologists have come up with rules for fair fighting: (1) Keep it private. (2) Remain cordial and respectful despite differences. (3) Focus on root problems. (4) Understand each other’s perspectives. (5) Focus on finding solutions.
People have different strategies for keeping cool. One quick remedy for cooling down a hot-head is to do some breathing exercises. When people are angry, a person’s muscles become very tense and inhaling more oxygen in the body is quick way to relax both body and mind.
Another strategy to keep cool is by engaging oneself in diversions such as playing computer games, listening to music, watching TV, or talking to friends. Any distracting activity in fact will quickly dissipate the anger.
And thirdly, one can remain cool by adopting an attitude of merely “letting go.”
It is very difficult and almost impossible to be clear-headed in the midst of an intense argument. People consumed by their anger do not think logically and commit acts that they would later regret.
The best way to attain mental and emotional clarity during a heated argument is to “take a break” and withdraw from the situation. This gives the conflicting parties some time to calm down and think more rationally. The goal of the “break” is to meet again at a latter time with cooler heads and with a focus on finding solutions instead of making personal attacks on each other.
Some principles on anger management:
One can be assertive without needing to be violent or aggressive.
It is not wrong to stand on an issue but some issues are simply not worth the fight.
It takes a mature and courageous person to admit his or her part in the problem and then actively seek for reconciliation.
More lessons we need to learn:
We need to learn how to treat people, even our enemies, with respect and dignity even in the midst of conflict.
Keeping peaceful relations should be made priority over winning an argument or forcing what one thinks is right.
We need to let our bruised egos heal and be willing to forgive.