Don't kill your neighbour
I don’t remember a lot from junior school, but I do remember Mary Skea (fake name) and a comment she made. Mary and I were opposites. I was tiny and she was a human giraffe who matured early. Mary would flick a hockey ball into a net like it was a lazy mosquito on her arm, and I hated sport. Mary and I were in the same friend group and you could say we fought. A lot. One fatal day, Mary threw me the ultimate insult her 13-year-old self had conceived: she told me I should shop in the doll’s section of the store because I was so small nowhere else would stock clothes for me. Mary’s comment caused reverberations of hurt across my 13-year-old mind, how could someone could be so nasty? I was horrified. We all are guilty of words which hurt- me and Mary and you. Dealing with people is not easy and having good relationships doesn't happen easily, but and here's one of the tricks to it, if you can handle conflict well you have a head start. Live past 6 months in life you’ll find you rub up against people who you may not like. Life gives us Mary Skeas, bosses with zero compassion, room mates with bipolar disorder and mother in-laws. And... those are the people who we don’t like. We also have partners or friends (whom we love more than fried food and series reruns of Gilmore Girls) but somehow seem to tear apart when we don't mean to. Conflict is inevitable, but the pain and break down of a relationship as a result is not - if we learn how to do it well.
Here’s what I’ve learned about having great relationships, post Mary and the many Marys that followed: learning to fight well is a crucial life skill. Friendships or relationships with healthy conflict teach us to be more attentive and appreciative of others. They show us where we can grow as a person. Healthy conflict matures us as a person. No-one wants to find themselves in relationships where they aren’t challenged- life ain't fun as a doormat.
So, in order to get to the bottom of this life issue and ace it, I scoured the internet, my life and Dr Phil's blog (that's a lie, the Dr Phil part) to find out how best to deal with conflict. If you are human and alive, this information will be helpful. Don’t kill your neighbour, don’t poison your significant others here’s the better option:
Fighting well, 7 (shortish) points
1. Chill dude.
“Fighting well means you keep your emotions in check. You may get a bit heated at times, and that’s okay. But don’t let them carry you into fighting dirty territory.”
Read more here
Sort through those raging emotions in your head, until you come to a place where you can understand exactly what has upset you. It’s better to get out of a situation, think it through and then dive in from a place of perspective than end up in jail, or so I've heard.
2. Passive Aggressive, ugh.
As Taylor says: “bandaids don’t fix bullet holes.” Slamming doors or making snide comments to show you are angry are not mature. Approach the issue in an open discussion. Talk directly to the person who you are angry with, get to the bottom of the problem; apologize. Don’t expect people to read your mind.
3. Play nice.
Explain why you are angry or frustrated. Don't get personal or accusatory you probably care about this person to some degree and want to keep some kind of friendship or polite relationship. Go for neutral, not sarcastic, irritable, angry or patronizing. “I feel like you don’t want to spend time with me”, is a better substitute for “You are a negligent piece of…&***.”
4. Detail Schmetail.
Give 2/3 examples of what the issue is so that you can show the other person your argument is valid and help them to understand your problem.
5. Like, actually listen.
Be a real listener, as in, really listen. Don’t stare out the window, cross your arms, roll your eyes or interrupt. Instead, nod, make agreeing sounds and maintain eye contact. This shows the other person you respect them enough to hear them out, regardless of whether you agree with what they say or not.
6. Catch ya laters.
If you need some time to think about the discussion, that’s ok. Just don’t leave the other guy in limbo. “I’m confused about everything right now. I’m going to think it through and let you know what I have decided by next week” works as a template.
7. Don't create the next season of Gossip Girl.
When you avoid the conflict or vent to everybody but the person involved, it makes the mess worse. This can also lead to rumours and people who spread rumours are lame.
Conflict is hard, so don’t feel bad if you think you get it wrong. I guess the main thing I've learned is it’s not about being right. It is about letting other people teach you things about yourself and learning to navigate another mind.
So, I know you've been wondering, did Mary and I ever become besties and resolve our differences? No, ‘fraid not. But we’re adults now and if we see each other in the grocery store we can have a simple conversation about things like the price of petrol, who died in Grey's Anatomy and the declining economy.
My Mary experience taught me negative words break down and they stick with you a long time. Looking back, I resolve once again to think and speak the right words in tough situations because even if I really really don't like you in that moment I don't want to cause damage it will take year's to repair.