All of us face conflicts in our lives. For some it could be at their workplace and for others it could simply be at home. It isn’t humanely possible for an individual to perpetually be in agreement with another. Hence, it is only natural that conflicts arise, arguments sprout and feelings get hurt. It doesn’t end there. The aftermath of an unresolved conflict remains in people’s heart long enough to sow the seeds of mistrust and resentment, thereby laying the groundwork for future conflicts.

So to answer the burning question – How do you react in a situation of conflict? Let’s take a very simple scenario where a stubborn Boss or co-worker accuses you of not doing something which you ought to have done. It may either be that you really didn’t do it or that you did do it and yet the outcome wasn’t as expected. Now, if it really is the case where you didn’t do your part, then the entire point is moot. You just have to face the consequences of your neglect. But, on the other hand, if you did keep up your part in the bargain and events that happened subsequently weren’t under your control, then how do you handle the situation? Do you simply shoot the guy down and give it right back to his face or simply be the Boss’s ‘’Yes-Man’’ and bear the brunt of his accusations?

I’m sure most of us would love to give back as good as we get and take satisfaction at the fact that we stood our ground. But there are consequences that need to be taken into account. You could face disciplinary actions, get pulled up by the Management for disrespectful behaviour, be branded as the ‘uncooperative’ team member or worse still get fired. So many a time, we end up suffering in silence fearful of the consequences and gradually end up resenting our work and the workplace.

Surprisingly it is the same for family as well. Almost every day at home, we are in the middle of a situation where we do not necessarily agree with the other person – husband, mom –in –law, kids just about anyone. We volubly disagree with them, point out that they were wrong and we are right and viola, a storm in a teacup rages, breaking hearts and wreaking havoc on relationships.

So is there a middle ground somewhere? Is there some way to manage conflicts in such a way as to cause least distress to the parties involved?

Here’s my suggestion – The next time you are accused by a co-worker of negligence, even though you are in the right, instead of hurling back insensitive words and wasting time in the blame game, simply focus on getting the issue at hand sorted out. Rather than thinking of words to counter his accusations, think about ways to salvage the situation, because at the end of the day getting the work done was in part, your responsibility too. And when the storm has blown over, and troubled waters have cleared, you talk to you co-worker and make him aware that you did do your part and yet things didn’t go the way they were supposed to. Explain to him in a calm, pleasant language that you didn’t want to take the focus out of the issue at hand and waste time arguing earlier but needed to clear the air about having done your duty as expected. I’m sure your boss or co worker would respect your sense of restraint and dedication.

But let me be clear here, I’m not for one minute suggesting that you put up with unethical or immoral behaviour in any way. If it is something that completely goes against your values, you have every right to fight tooth and nail and hold your ground.

The same analogy applies to the home front as well. In a situation where you are unjustly accused by an insensitive family member of doing something wrong or not doing something at all, if you are in the clear, instead of offending them and taking brief satisfaction at bringing them down a couple of notches and hurting their egos, you just go ahead and finish of the task you were expected to do without offering any excuses or justifications. Once that’s done and dusted, you bring up the topic at a time when tempers have cooled off, and put across the point in respectful language that you were in fact right about doing or not doing what you were supposed to do. I’m sure that this person would surely regret their insensitivity and be a bit more cautious before flinging accusations at you the next time.

At the end of the day, it makes a great difference to go to bed holding no grudges against anyone. I’d choose living in harmony over bitterness, anyday!