Urgent Support

Resolve your conflicts effectively

Mihika had recently joined a drama club. Given the diverse nature of members, each had their own creative ideas but would often work together on a common script, so naturally there would be times when students would have disagreements. Mihika would feel extremely uncomfortable with these conflicts. Even in her personal relationships, if she felt like voicing her opinion would cause dispute, she would avoid it. Additionally, if something did lead to friction, she would feel extremely overwhelmed. So much so that she would go quiet and then later get frustrated with herself about all things she wished she would have said. She wanted to find a way to effectively navigate these situations...


Conflicts, although uncomfortable, are an inevitable part of most relationships. You may have found yourself in conflict with your roommates, classmates, friends, or family members as well. When handled appropriately, conflicts can actually help make relationships stronger. Conflicts provide an opportunity for us to better understand our own beliefs, actions, and needs as well as the other person’s. Learning healthy resolution skills can be one of the most valuable interpersonal skills we can learn.

Before we begin, think about how you respond to conflicts?
  • I avoid it as much as I can and bottle up my feelings.
  • I tend to get angry and lash out, and usually regret it later.
  • I feel like it’s a personal attack.
  • I feel overwhelmed and become silent.
  • I let things pile up and bring them up later together.
The aforementioned responses are unhealthy ways to respond. All these patterns can be unlearned and changed to adopt a healthier conflict resolution strategy.

Coping Mechanisms

Here are some ways to handle conflicts effectively
Stay calm
  • Try to keep the conversation as calm and unoffending as possible.
  • Be mindful of your own tone and body language (e.g. avoid disrespecting/mocking your partner, using sarcasm, calling names, rolling eyes, threatening, hitting below the belt)
  • Fight the urge to disconnect, withdraw from the conversation (shutting down and not responding). If you’re feeling too overwhelmed, consider communicating the same and taking some time off.
Seek to understand first
  • Give the individual a chance to speak, without interrupting or arguing with them. Ask questions to deepen your understanding (could you tell me more about that?)
  • Explain what you’ve understood in your own words (from what you’ve said, I understand that..)
  • Acknowledge their feelings (I can see why you would feel that way)
Put across your point of view

Some things to keep in mind while you do so.

  • Instead of Criticizing
    (attacking the partner instead of their actions; 'You never think about me! You're so selfish'), blaming or generalizing (You always/never…); try simply stating what is bothering you.
    e.g. Instead of: How could you talk about me like that!
    Try: I heard you said something about me behind my back. I didn’t think you would say that. I’m upset about this.
  • Be clear and simply describe your feelings
    The other individual is more likely to consider your point if approached in a non-threatening way.
    e.g. Instead of: You never keep in touch, you are a bad friend!
    Try: It seems like I’m making more of an effort to stay in touch. Could you try and meet me halfway? Or I would like you to stay in touch with me.
  • Use 'I' statements
    It helps keep the focus on your own thoughts, feelings, needs, rather than the other individual.
    e.g. Instead of: You make me angry when you do that
    Try: I feel upset when you simply stop talking, because then I feel my opinion does not matter.
  • Additionally
    Offer and seek constructive feedback. Talk about what you expected or would have liked from them instead of what was done wrong.
  • Focus on one issue

    Avoid taking one conversation as an opportunity to resolve everything that bothers you. Which event has triggered this conflict? Focus on stating that. Breaking down bigger issues into smaller ones can help too.

  • Don’t let it all pile up
    In all relationships, letting problems pile up only makes things worse. Instead of letting things escalate and resentment build up, address them with the individual and clear the air.
  • Take responsibility for your words and actions
    Be open to the idea that you could be wrong. Take responsibility for your actions that may have made the situation worse. Remember that disagreements are not personal rejections or a win-lose situation.
    e.g. You could try saying: 'I can understand that (my actions) had (this impact)'
    "().. was my responsibility
Do some damage control

Take some steps to calm everyone down and reduce the hurt. Try using phrases like "Let me try again," and "I'm sorry" or taking some time to calm down before coming back to the conversation.

Seek help

There may be times when dealing with it alone does not seem to be helping. Reaching for help is not a sign of weakness; rather, it can be empowering.
  • For adjustment and other concerns, your ISMP/ ISCP mentor is your go-to person! It could be about your wing mates or about managing your schedule-your mentor has been there, done that.
  • When the emotions get overwhelming or when you are simply confused about what is happening to you, talking to a counsellor at the Student Wellness Centre could give relief and provide guidance about what you can do.
  • Also, your parents are just a phone call away. Don’t hold back from contacting them even if you just want to unburden!