In the midst of a pandemic, being home for the holidays and approaching a new semester, conflict may be on the rise in your personal environment. While it may seem easy or more time-efficient to brush any occurring issues aside, being non-confrontational may prove to be more difficult in the long run. These issues can be as trivial as a roommate eating some of your food on the regular or as serious as deep-rooted differences in life philosophies with an old friend. Regardless of the issues, it's important to learn the skills needed to both confront issues in your life and resolve them. By working on these skills, you can go into conflicts with more confidence in yourself and get what you need from the outcome.
It can be difficult to even consider confronting a situation, especially with everything else going on in your routine. However, learning to face problems with those around us has become more frequent as students are stuck inside with roommates 24/7. Unfortunately, this skill does not only apply to COVID-19 and college, but is something you can carry with you for the rest of your life. So where do you even start when trying to hone your confrontation and conflict resolutions skills? Kaci Carr, a therapist at Loudoun Psychological, shared some tips.
"I can recommend a specific strategy that I use in therapy a lot when emotions get in the way when managing conflict, a set of skills from a therapy called dialectical behavior therapy, it's from a skills module for interpersonal effectiveness," Carr said.
Kaci uses a strategy she refers to as “DEAR MAN.” This model is an acronym she uses to help people synthesize and address a problem and to make sure you can reap the proper benefits from the interaction.
“The idea is that to be interpersonally effective you have to balance three things: getting your objectives, preserving the relationship, and preserving self-respect,” Carr said. “People often get hung up on one of those things, hyper-focused on what they need, or can compromise the relationship.”
DEAR MAN is an acronym that focuses on reaching the outcome you want from a situation. It is broken down into 7 parts: Describe, Express, Assert, Reinforce, (Stay) Mindful, Appear confident and Negotiate — describe your situation in objective terms, express your feelings, assert what you need, reinforce the positive effects of what you need, stay mindful of your goals, appear confident and be willing to negotiate. By following the steps in DEAR MAN, you can better break down and focus on your objectives of conflict resolution. It can be helpful to prepare talking points beforehand and to write down goals to ensure a clearer conversation.
This isn't the only thing that can aid in conflict resolution. When identifying your goals in a conflict, it's helpful to have a grasp of self knowledge, which is defined as “knowledge or understanding of one's own capabilities, character, feelings, or motivations,” according to Merriam Webster.
“Self knowledge is helpful in resolving conflict, and equally important to have an understanding of yourself in context,” Carr said.
Knowing yourself can be helpful when grappling with confrontation as well as when learning your conflict resolution style. Utilizing on-campus resources such as Cook Counseling, the Women’s Center or even your Resident Advisor can help in this journey and make conflicts easier to tackle in the future.
Having confidence in your abilities to tackle problems and to even kick start the process of knowing yourself better in all aspects of life. So, this upcoming year, let’s focus inwardly in order to help us overcome our outward conflicts.