Resolving Conflict Mindfully
Practice mindful conflict resolution with these actions:
PAUSE: Before reacting, take a beat to check in with yourself. Pausing gives us a moment to collect our thoughts, be less reactive, and plug into our higher decision making skills.
TAKE A DEEP BREATH: belly breathing, where we breathe from our diaphragm (and not our chests), is a highly effective tool for quickly cooling off our nervous systems and reconnecting with our bodies.
DO A BODY SCAN + NOTICE: quickly scan from head to toe and identify any places you may be feeling stress, tension, or anxiety. Notice this feeling. Acknowledge whatever emotions are coming up for you.
PRACTICE NONJUDGEMENT FOR YOURSELF + OTHERS: When you notice how you’re feeling in your body, acknowledge it without attributing right or wrong to that feeling. When we beat ourselves up for our feelings, we double down on that emotion and may even take it out on the other person. Similarly, viewing the other person without judgement helps us see the situation more clearly.
CHOOSE: Once you have clarity about how you’re feeling, decide whether to seek resolution or to step away from the conversation until you’re feeling less reactive. (Or indefinitely!)
SUGGEST A SOLUTION: suggest a solution (or several), avoiding name-calling, charged wording, and other types of negative confrontation
USE “I” STATEMENTS: “I” statements put the focus on how you are feeling, which helps the listener understand where you’re coming from and be less reactive themselves. Example: “I felt frustrated and embarrassed when you forgot about our coffee date” instead of “how could you forget about our coffee date??”
MOVE FORWARD: when a solution has been agreed upon, or if it’s clear a solution will not be agreed upon, move forward with continued nonjudgement. Forgive where necessary - holding onto frustration doesn’t serve either of you.
Mindful conflict resolution helps us reconnect with ourselves, be less reactive when we experience conflict, and manage our energy better. It helps us care for our relationships and stand up for ourselves when needed. As with all mindfulness, it is a practice, meaning it will take practice to become comfortable with. But eventually, it will feel more natural to pull this from your toolbox.
Ankrom, S. (2020, April.) Deep Breathing Exercises to Reduce Anxiety. Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/abdominal-breathing-2584115
GoodTherapy. (2018, February.) “I” Message. https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/psychpedia/i-message
Mindful. (2020, July.) What is Mindfulness? https://www.mindful.org/what-is-mindfulness/
Rush, Taylor. (2018, March.) Applying Mindfulness for Better Conflict Management. Cleveland Clinic. https://consultqd.clevelandclinic.org/applying-mindfulness-for-better-conflict-management/
Stewart, W. (2018, April.) 10 Steps For Mindful Conflict Resolution. Mindful. https://www.mindful.org/10-steps-for-mindful-conflict-resolution/