Resolving Conflict by Being Curious

Do you struggle with conflict like I do? Do you run and hide or stay silent so you don’t have to get in an argument with someone?  That was me to a tee.

It use to work pretty well for me. I just ran away (avoided) and then didn’t deal. Done. 

But the side affect? I lost the friendship, or separated myself from what I really wanted – deeper connection and to be loved.

Hmmm – my reactive pattern wasn’t working so well.

As I continue to grow, conflict is one of the big “opportunities for growth” that I love and hate so much.

And that’s what it is for you too. 

You feel uncomfortable, you wiggle in your skin, you avert, you hide, or perhaps you get defensive and shut down any ability to listen. 

I get it. I’m an expert at being passive/aggressive – I could teach a workshop on this totally ineffective way of communicating if you are interested in getting good at it.

But I decided a few years ago I didn’t want to be this way any more. I decided I wanted deeper connections in my life, even if it meant walking straight into my fears of dealing with conflict.

So here’s what I’ve learned about conflict in making a decision for being the best person I can be (and be a lot happier too):

  • There are two perspectives (sides) to every conflict. Yours isn’t the “right” or the “wrong” way, it’s just A way.
  • You will have reactive patterns show up time and again. It’s really hard to change a pattern that’s been in place for 30, 40, 50+ years. It’s not that it’s impossible, but it’s difficult. Be kind and gentle with yourself when you have a conflict.
  • Notice your reactive pattern. Watch it, be mad, shut down, cry, hit a pillow, feel lousy or whatever it is you do when you have a conflict.
  • Then take a breath. Maybe two or three.
  • Here’s the turning point: GET CURIOUS. Instead of going down the thought patterns of “they don’t do it like I need,” or “how could they do this to me – it’s so selfish!” Ask why. And ask them why. Approach the person you are having the conflict with and tell them you are interested in understanding where they are coming from. This will take them off the defensive and help them be heard. 
  • Soften your heart. Get off the “victim in the conflict” stand, and create a space that opens it up for both of you. It will RADICALLY change the tone and feel of the conversation. Remember that underneath all the reactive patterns we all have, every person just wants to be LOVED, including you.

Get curious. Ask why. Breath. Be kind to yourself. Conflict will continue to happen in your life. You get to choose whether you respond after you react, or just react.

Categories: Conflict & Forgiveness

About the Author: Angela Patnode

My passion, my calling, is for you to be totally you. Through private coaching, in-depth retreats, and online group coaching programs, I help you tap into your intuition and clarify your desires and vision, I guide you to take active steps toward making your desires a reality.

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