5 Tips for Resolving Conflict Peacefully | The BridgeMaker

5 Tips for Resolving Conflict Peacefully

By on Feb 02, 2014


Conflict cannot survive without your participation. – Wayne Dyer

As much as I’d like to believe that, “we can all get along,” it’s simply not realistic. There are times when personalities clash, misunderstandings escalate, and unfortunate arguments lead to physical confrontation.

The recent movie theater shooting in Tampa, Fla., which resulted from an argument over a father sending a text message to his daughter before the movie started, is a harsh reminder that violence can happen in an instant. A ridiculous argument that could have been resolved peacefully, ended in death.

But, there is hope.

By following some common sense guidelines can lead the way to resolving conflict peacefully and restoring kindness even in the tensest circumstances so fathers can return home to their daughters and the world can become a safer place to live.

  1. Staying Calm
    Remember the only emotions you can control are your own. It’s important to take charge of your own anger before you make any attempt to calm down the other person. Whether it’s through controlled breathing or visualization, you are the only one in control of how you handle you
  2. Let the Other Person Speak
    If someone has engaged you in an uncomfortable conversation, let them say their peace. Interrupting or acting disinterested will only serve to fuel the fire. In this circumstance, remember that you may not be dealing with a rational person. By letting someone get it out of their system, it will often help to calm things down.
  3. There Are No Awards for Winning an Argument
    If your conflict is revolving around a ridiculous argument, don’t get caught up in the need to win. If submitting to someone’s claim that you’re whispering too loudly in a theater will resolve the conflict peacefully, so be it.

    When you’re arguing with strangers, the only reason you feel the need to win is generally driven by ego. When you choose to give in, your opponent has no real need to continue arguing.

  4. Keep a Comfortable Distance
    If you believe a conflict might become physical, maintain a comfortable distance from the other person. Assuming they are the aggressor, any physical moves on your part might be misunderstood as an offensive posture. Keep your distance and don’t give the other person a reason to feel threatened.
  5. Don’t Give in to Verbal Abuse
    Pay attention to your tone, and avoid using abusive language. Leave that for your inner voice. Profanity, hateful language, and screaming, will only serve to escalate any conflict.
Seek Higher Ground

When considering how to resolve conflict peacefully, seek the higher ground. Here’s a personal example: Even though Mary Beth and I have a happy marriage, we don’t have a perfect marriage. We disagree, bicker and sometimes fight.

However, we received an important tool several years ago that helps ground us during times of conflict. So, when the arguments begin to escalate, we rely on these words to restore peace once again:

Would you rather be right, or happy?

In our marriage, it’s the difference between being happy or unhappy. In the case of the Tampa shooting, the stakes were higher, it was the difference between being alive or dead, but I think if either man used the same tool that Mary Beth and I use, then peace would have won and the conflict would have resolved peacefully.

The BridgeMaker Founder Alex Blackwell is the author of Letting Go: 25 True Stories of Peace, Hope and Surrender. Join the community to connect, share and inspire: Twitter | Facebook | More Posts

  • Your quote, “Would you rather be right or happy” says it all.

    I am watching a friend going through a difficult marriage conflict in which the husband continues to stand on his “right” to win no matter the damage done to the relationship. He would rather be right than happy and it is destroying what could be a great marriage.

    Thanks for the reminder.

    • This tool has brought more peace and love back into my marriage than I could ever imagine. Thanks for stopping by Doug – it’s great seeing you here!

  • A little more love and respect for one another would go a long way in making our world a kinder gentler place Alex. You put this so well. Thank you for your wise insights.

    • You are most welcome Elle, and thank you for being an ambassador for peace, too!

  • Well done! A lot of this has to do with the ego – that is, how much your idea of yourself is harmed if you don’t get your way or are not right. Most of the tension of our conflicts is completely unnecessary, if we actually weigh the value of a victory before entering into a combative situation (where that is possible).

    • Sound wisdom, thanks for sharing; and for the reminder of the need to keep our egos in check, especially during times of conflict.

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