Mastering communication and conflict resolution in college can be tough. Over the course of my 4 years at my small liberal arts university, the way that I navigate my friendships has evolved. I believed I had a good idea of how to navigate and maintain healthy friendships and resolve conflicts. I had friendships that were nearing a decade. A couple of them ended while I was in college. I personally saw the conflict as resolvable, but they did not see it the same way. would able to easily resolve it. I projected my personal expectations unto my friends rather than actually checking in with them about the expectations that we had out of each other.
In a period of reflection, it dawned on me that longevity does not always equate to quality. We tend to desire friendships that have both. Secondly, the expectations and nonnegotiables that you have may not be the same as your friend.
It’s easy to get caught up in emotions when in the middle of a conflict. There were times when I was passive when it came to speaking up on how I felt certain aspects of my friendships that were not working for me. I used to internalize comments and tried to “brush it off” until my feelings bubbled over or were expressed more passive aggressively. I realized that this was not healthy for me or the relationship with my friend. To avoid the continuation of this cycle, I needed to change that and voice how I felt.
However, it’s important to remain calm and level-headed. Take a few deep breaths, and try to approach the situation objectively. In my experience, I gave the situation space before setting up a time to have the conversation with my friend. I spent a bit of time reflecting on the parts of the friendship that I appreciated v. what I didn’t. Honestly, I spent time overthinking about whether it was worth the conversation or not. Then, I decided that I do value the friendship enough to have the tough conversation that we’ve both been avoiding. I understand that may not be the case for everyone.
Use “I” Statements
Instead of blaming the other person, use “I” statements to express how you feel. You have probably heard this before, but it really helps. When we experience conflict, the reality that you are experiencing can be different from your friend. “I” statements are a way for you to affirm how you feel without projecting unto the other person. For example, “I feel hurt when you ignore me,” instead of “You always ignore me.” Statements that use “always” and “never” sometimes are not entirely true and can cause your friend to be defensive.
Find Common Ground
Look for areas where you can find common ground with the other person. This can help build a connection and make it easier to find a resolution. Sometimes, it is easier to have boundaries with people that you don’t talk to as much. Establishing common ground comes with establishing boundaries. In my experience, it was tough because I thought that my friends would take it personally. Ultimately, it comes down to respect and care. When you have friends that truly care, they will work to respect your boundaries. Finding common ground is tough and may not happen all at once.
When resolving a conflict, it’s important to actively listen to the other person’s perspective. Sometimes the ego gets in the way and we are only focused on how we feel and our thoughts. This means fully engaging in the conversation and trying to understand their point of view. Although you have your personal feelings, the goal is to work toward conflict resolution.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. I hope you found the information useful and informative. Don’t hesitate to leave a comment or reach out if you have any questions or feedback. Stay tuned for more content, and until next time, happy reading, and find ways to let your life bloom!