Most people believe that conflict must end in tears, rage or losing out. This is why so many people avoid it, and either go over-the-top in their aggression (to force and intimidate others) or comply and go underground to manoeuvre others into doing what they want.
This is regrettable because neither of the above strategies work well. They both end in lose-lose outcomes. This is mainly because people are intelligent and quick to recognise coercion whether it is done brutally or manipulatively – and they dig in, block and resist.
Yet resolving conflict is one of the few means we have at our disposal for building truly close relationships with others. This is because every time we resolve an issue, we end up building empathy by emphasising our similarity rather than our difference. More similarities mean that our interests become increasingly aligned over time – making us more and more on the same side.
We just need to behave well during conflict. Always come forward to talk – don’t retreat and sulk. Never get angry and lose control. Stay soft and kind but put up a comprehensive, water-tight and sustained argument while keeping an exceptionally open mind.