Handling conflicts

Recently I have been hearing stories of conflict among friends, family members, and colleagues. The pattern is similar - one person or group behaves in a way that doesn't meet another person's or group's expectations. We all have different expectations (conscious and subconscious; said and unsaid), perceptions, behaviors, and quirks, so these sorts of mismatches are inevitable. 

You can try to reduce conflicts by lowering your expectations and choosing to spend more time with those who are compatible with your expectations. But those aren't always options or foolproof, so you must also learn to deal with conflicts and "fight well" when they arise. 

So what can you do when there's a conflict?

The first question is whether you care for the relationship. If you or the other party don't care for the relationship, you can try to end it or reduce it. But if you care for the relationship, you can either let it pass or discuss it. 

You can consider letting it pass if you think this isn't very consequential and you aren't intentionally being taken advantage of. But in other cases, letting it pass will cause a slow build-up of resentment that'll cause you suffering and eventually show up in your expressions, attitude, and actions. 

You can choose to discuss and resolve it if you think it's a big deal, your relationship is healthy, and the other person will be open and empathetic. These "crucial conversations" can be awkward and hard and require tact. You need to create safety for the other person, show kindness, care, and empathy, share with clarity and vulnerability (you did/said ... which made me feel ... or resulted in ...), and also be ready to change your mind or meet halfway. I suspect that a lot of conflicting behavior in otherwise caring relationships is unintentional and can be resolved with tactful conversations.