We have all been there. Sometimes we are the offender while other times we are the offended. It is a hard place to be and often, when the emotions subside, we realize the issue could have been handled with so much more maturity and respect.
I can recall a heated argument with someone I considered as a dear friend. The pain of her words still hurt when I think about how quickly she dismissed me and our friendship. To this day, I have no idea what caused such a rapid decline in our relationship but I learned some valuable lessons.
None of us will ever be perfect and there will be more times than we care to admit that we could have handled a conflict differently.
After the fact, what can we do to minimize the effects of a conflict in our marriages, friendships and even professional relationships?
1. Don't dwell on it
Regardless of who was right or wrong, let it go. I am the world's worst at obsessing over what I should have said or should have done. Regardless, the conflict is over and we need to learn to move on. Learn what you can from the experience, accept what happened and focus on making the relationships in your life better by moving towards your future, not dwelling in your past.
2. Don't become a martyr
Maybe you held your tongue with your spouse or a disrespectful friend. Good for you but don't pat yourself on the back too much. Taking a higher road does not make you the "better person." Taking the higher road makes you an adult. We should not self gloat in our own self-righteousness. No one wins when someone gets offended. We all lose something. Sometimes, the loss is a relationship, respect and/or community.
3. Don't take sides
Again, there is not a winner when there is a quarrel. Oftentimes, however, there is an unfair line drawn in the sand by each opposing party. We should not expect others in our lives to choose who they will defend. Our children should never be thrown in our battles to buffer nor should our family and friends. If it is not their battle to fight, leave them out of the conflict. Having people take your side in an argument to prove you were right only shows how insecure and petty you are being about the issue.
You can get on your pick of social media sites and someones entire life is posted for your viewing pleasure. If an argument with your friend or spouse was that heated, take a day or so off before posting. You might regret what you type later. You might be able to erase it, but if they read it, it will always be there in their head. Your conflict is not news worthy. Stop posting your every issue.
5. Don't take it as a bad thing
Many times when conflict between people takes place, we automatically think everyone and everything is against us. When strife happens, take it as an opportunity to learn. Take the chance to learn how to better manage conflict and yourself. We must be open to learning from the experience. Oftentimes, there is truth somewhere in the midst of conflict.
Conflict can grow your relationships or it can destroy them. Much of what happens is up to us. It takes spiritual maturity to handle issues properly and more often than not, it requires us to consider another's self-interest over our own agendas. We have to be intentional in how we approach, how we respond and most importantly, how we love one another - even in conflict.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on Heartskeeper. It has been republished here with permission.
Sarah is a Christian Author and Speaker. She wrote the parenting book, "Walking the Talk: A Parent's Guide to Intimacy and Healthy Relationships" and maintains the blog A Life Inspired. Her passion is to equip the next generation of families to speak boldly and walk confidently in their faith and charge as parents. You can stay up to date with Sarah on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.