“Don’t make waves” is a statement that we’ve all heard and believe. As girls, we’ve been told all our lives to be nice and not to cause conflict. So how do you deal with that nagging feeling when your best friend does something that hurts your feelings? Or how about when you need to confront your gal pal about something that is unhealthy in her life?
First off, understand that conflict is normal, natural and neutral. It is not negative, as it’s often perceived. Friends who don’t know each other well typically don’t have conflict, because they are not willing to challenge each other. Conflict means that you are willing to dig deeper into issues and ultimately make your friendship stronger! It restores each individual by bringing you both to the same point and helps prevent judging by bringing issues to the surface. Conflict is inevitable so be sure to use it to protect your friendships.
There is a healthy way to deal with conflict. Healthy confrontation invites, rather than demands, change in a person. When confronting your friends:
- Tell them what encourages you about their life.
- Tell them what you would caution them about.
- Tell them anything else you think they need to know about their life and character, including how you feel about the situation.
- Restate what you hear them explaining to you until they recognize that you understand their position.
- Discuss alternatives until you agree on a resolution (some give and take may be required).
Most importantly, say and do everything in love and gentleness.
On the other hand, if you are the one being confronted, there is also a healthy way to handle your uneasiness. At first, your friend’s statements may seem harsh because you’re not used to pushing yourself in this manner. Instead of becoming defensive, take a look at yourself and see if you are willing to absorb the words of a loved one and use them for changing and growing yourself for the better. Do your best to communicate your feelings lovingly.
Conflict means that you are willing to dig deeper into issues and ultimately make your friendship stronger!
The person and your friendship is much more important then the problem or the principle, so keep these additional clues in mind when reaching out to a friend.
- Connect in person.
- Be aware of your tone of voice and body language.
- Involve only the people you’re struggling with, no extras and leave no one out.
- Once the issue has been cleared, put it in the past and NEVER bring it up again.
So instead of opting to feel comfortable all the time with your amigas, try to see conflict as a way to build your relationship. Your friendships are worthy of the growth and challenge!
Inspired by “Learning the Necessary Art of Confrontation” seminar by Lori Salierno at Youth Specialties 2004.