I tend to avoid conflict. There, I said it.

But problems and disagreements do arise. We can blast social media with our opinions and viewpoints, all perfectly valid of course. 

The problem is when it gets personal: I’m trying to move forward, and someone is blocking my path or otherwise giving me anxiety.

The first principle: Take time to think. Often my emotions can overpower my thinking, getting me into even more trouble. Sometimes that’s taking just a few seconds before speaking, other times it’s sleeping on an issue overnight.

Second: It’s OK to take a step back. It’s easy to get in the mindset that ANY kind of retreat is perceived as weakness or failure, but that’s rarely true. More often, giving a little space to the conflict will help cooler heads to prevail on both sides.

Third: What is my wiser self saying? I’ll go back to my core principles, and then ask myself who I really want to be in the situation. Often I’ll find that I’m not really being honest with myself and the other person, and it helps to realize that. What would be honest and principled?

Fourth: Search for the win-win. I like win-win solutions because they tend to mend relationships and reduce conflict long term. It’s not always possible, of course, but I’ve found that it’s worth the effort.

Conflict is a deeply human trait, no matter what you do. But it’s really more about managing yourself than winning over the other.