It’s no secret that navigating conflict with friends can be difficult. Especially when you’re young and still trying to figure out how to navigate relationships. No one wants to feel like they’re always causing drama or being a burden. But sometimes it’s impossible to avoid disagreements, they will naturally happen in any relationship. However, it’s important that you handle conflict in a mature way in order to maintain a strong friendship. That’s why we’re giving you our advice on how to handle conflict with friends in a healthy way.
The Importance of Advocating for Yourself
Many teens and young adults want to avoid conflict at all costs. If you recently started college and are making new friends, you might feel pressure to “fit in” and go along with everything. Even if you’ve had a friend for a long time, you might fear that you’ll lose them if you speak up for yourself.
Now is as good of a time as any to learn the importance of advocating for yourself. Your experiences and feelings matter! Bottling up your emotions will never lead to anything good. You might think that you’re “keeping the peace” now, but down the road you could end up resenting your friend or “blowing up” since your feelings weren’t addressed earlier. That’s why it’s so important to learn how to advocate for yourself and handle conflicts that may arise in your friendships.
How to Communicate During Conflict
If you’re a teen or young adult, you probably know how easily things can be misunderstood over text. You might come across as angrier than you actually are or say something that could be interpreted in a different way than you intended.
That’s why it’s best to talk in person if possible. This will make a misunderstanding less likely, and allow you to express your feelings more clearly. If you’re not able to meet in person, try talking on the phone instead of texting so you can at least hear each other’s voices.
It might feel scarier than texting, especially if you are afraid of conflict, but it will lead to a much more productive conversation. And the more you practice having touch conversations in person, the easier it will become.
Express Your Feelings Clearly and Calmly
When you are communicating with your friend, it’s important to express your feelings clearly. One way to do this is by using “I” statements. For example you might say, “I feel disrespected when you talk over me” instead of saying “You are disrespectful.” This will help you convey your experience without making assumptions about your friends intentions.
This may seem obvious, but it’s worth saying: try to stay calm. If you get really emotional, it will be difficult to express your feelings. And if you let your anger overcome you, you can say things that you don’t really mean. Take a few deep breaths before you start talking to try to stay calm throughout the conversation.
Give Your Friend a Chance to Share Their Perspective
We’ve talked about the importance of advocating for yourself. However, you also need to have an open mind and allow your friend to share their experience too. In any conflict, there are usually two sides (or more) to the story.
They might have a different perspective on what happened, or they might not have realized how their actions made you feel. Perhaps they were going through something you didn’t know about. Or maybe you did something that you didn’t realize had hurt or upset them as well. That’s why it’s so important to listen to your friend’s perspective with an open mind.
Even if you don’t agree with your friend, you can still validate their emotions. Validating is when you acknowledge someone’s feelings or experiences. For instance, if your friend is upset that you didn’t invite them to a party, you might say “I can understand why you would feel left out and hurt.” Try doing this before you explain your side of things so they know you aren’t dismissing their experience.
By validating their emotions, you are showing that you care about their feelings even if you don’t agree with them. This can help de-escalate the situation and make it easier to find a resolution.
Find a Solution to Move Forward
Once you’ve both had a chance to share your experiences, it’s time to find a path to move forward. This doesn’t mean just forgetting it all happened. Rather, it means coming up with a solution that works for both of you so you can move past the conflict.
Use this as an opportunity to create a plan for the future so the same issue isn’t likely to occur again. For example if you had a disagreement on a political topic, you might set some boundaries or guidelines around those discussions so they don’t become too heated in the future. It might take some time and require some compromise, but it’s important to find a solution that you are both happy with.
Conflict is never fun, especially conflict with friends. It can be awkward, uncomfortable, and distressing. But it’s a natural part of any relationship. At some point in most friendships, one of you will need to set a boundary or expressing a differing opinion. If you find yourself in conflict with a friend, remember to express your feelings calmly and clearly. Give them a chance to share their perspective, and try to see things from their point of view. And finally, work together to find a solution that works for both of you. With some work you can get through this, and your relationship will be stronger because of it!
Start Counseling in Roswell, GA and Learn How to Navigate Conflict with Friends
If you find yourself struggling to navigate conflict with friends, you might want to consider seeking support from a counselor. A counselor can provide guidance along with skills to help you manage conflict in a healthy way. They can also help you understand the underlying reasons that you may have trouble with conflict, such as anxiety or trouble asserting boundaries. If you’re interested in counseling, you can follow these simple steps to get started:
- Contact Wellview Counseling to schedule your initial appointment and learn more about how counseling can help you
- Meet with one the caring therapists on our team
- Learn how to navigate conflict in a healthy way
Additional Services Offered at Wellview Counseling
As a team of mental health professionals, we know that you be experiencing other challenges outside of the occasional conflict with friends. At Wellview Counseling, we offer a wide range of services to support our clients through the various mental health concerns they may be experiencing. Maybe you are struggling with anxiety or trauma, and that is why it’s difficult for you to handle conflict with others. Or perhaps you’re dealing with depression and need some guidance through this time.
In addition to offering a wide range of services, we also offer our services to a wide range of ages! Our counselors work with children, teens, young adults, and older adults too. We offer in person counseling at our practice in Roswell, Georgia. However, we can see clients from anywhere in Georgia through online counseling. If you want to learn more about our counselors or how counseling can help you, please feel welcome to reach out.