I attended a talk about civility this week and was inspired to write about how to eliminate or reduce relationship conflict. The presentation was delivered by Dr. Forni, a professor from John Hopkins University who has dedicated his life to the civility movement. What struck me was his research as to why incivility happens. There were three components: Stress, anonymity, and insecurity. In other words, when we are stressed out, when we don't know the other person, or when we feel insecure about who we are, we are more likely to react in rudeness, create drama, or to participate in an act of incivility.
Here are five practical ways you can reduce relationship conflict:

1. Meet your basic needs
2. Claim the success you have
3. View others as a friend
4. Discount the stories you tell yourself
5. See everyone as equally successful

Meet your Basic Needs
When you are stressed and something unfortunate happens, you will say or do something you regret. We are living in very high stress times and most of us are drowning in a sea of choices and rushing to keep up with technology. What this means is more stress and more incivility. Here's the deal: It's not going to get better by itself. You are never going to catch up. That's not what this is about anyway. The lesson is to recognize your choices and do whatever you must to keep your stress levels manageable. This means taking regular breaks, scheduling some time to be unplugged, and having some time with friends. When your basic needs are met and you are mastering your energy physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually you are more likely to maintain positive relationships and manage the ones that challenge you.

Claim the Success You Have
Here's the deal: You never really "get there." Stop striving to arrive. You are there already and at the same time, you are always going to be going for something more. That is the paradox called growth. Since one of the components for incivility is insecurity, the more you can claim your success and be good to yourself, the more secure you will feel. When you feel secure, you don't need to judge others, or try to put them down to level the playing field. When you feel good about yourself you are good to others too.

View Others as a Friend
Dr. Forni gave an example of road rage and how when people get angry they give rude hand signals, aka flipping the bird. The only reason people behave like that is because they do not know the other person. Wouldn't you feel terrible if after a rude gesture, you realized the person you flipped off, was the minister at your church, or your favorite professor from college, or a long lost friend? In my book, Stop Workplace Drama, the fifth principle talks about the fact that the way you view others will impact everything including your behavior. I just watched a news documentary where a serial killer said he viewed his victims as objects instead of as people. Viewing other people as a friend will virtually eliminate drama and rude behavior.

Discount the Stories You Tell Yourself
Most of the time we just make stuff up about ourselves and about other people. We say things about ourselves like, "I'm so stupid," or "I'm crazy..." This does nothing but create that insecurity we just talked about. Then we also make up things about others: "The reason she didn't speak to me is because she thinks she's better than everyone else," we say. The reality may be quite different. She didn't see you. She found out she has a serious illness. She just lost a major account. Human beings are "meaning-making-machines." We think over 60,000 thoughts every day and over 85 % of those thoughts are either repetitive or negative. If we can quickly identify the facts from the fiction this too will eliminate a lot of relationship conflict at work and in our personal lives.

See Everyone as Equally Successful
What if you thought that each person you came into contact with was important and worthy of your attention? Would it change the way you speak to them, speak about them and act toward them? Of course it would. Change always happens in the mind first. You can learn all the communication techniques in the world but if you see people as worthless, unimportant, or less than you in any way, the techniques won't work. Change the way you see others, and you change everything else.

Following these five helpful steps for resolving conflict will improve your relationships with others and with yourself. When you learn to handle conflict in a positive manner, you'll begin to create a less stressful and more empowered life.

Author's Bio: 

Marlene Chism is the author of Stop Workplace Drama. She helps managers and business leaders resolve relationship conflict and reduce negativity in the workplace. Visit Stop Workplace Drama to learn the eight principles help leaders gain clarity and reduce workplace drama.