“Wars teach us not to love our enemies, but to hate our allies.”- W.L. George

With so many interactions with so many different people, we’re bound to butt heads every now and then. And if we’re not careful, those conflicts could ruin a great relationship. (We’ve all seen that happen!) But we don’t have to be afraid of these battles because they can be overcome. That’s the message in The Art of War. Sun Tzu’s wisdom is timeless for a reason.

“Fury always finds weapons.” – Virgil

Identify the problem when it arises and be determined to deal with it. Ignoring it (like pretty much all problems in life) only makes it worse. Then ask whether it actually is a problem in the first place. Does this person have an issue with me or am I jumping to a conclusion that is completely wrong? Most of the things other people do have nothing to do with us. Assuming they do is a big mistake.

“Violence does, in truth, recoil upon the violent, and the schemer falls into the pit which he digs for another.” – Sherlock Holmes

Take a minute to calm down and think things through. Even if you’ve identified a legitimate conflict, fighting might not be the best solution. Wars are costly and sometimes it’s better to go with the flow or simply walk away. This doesn’t mean you’re being a coward or sacrificing your own values; it simply means you understand the importance of picking battles and realise that some fights simply aren’t worth the trouble. Wasting time and energy on tiny matters will only leave you too drained to deal with the ones you should.

“Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you’ll ever regret.” – Laurence J. Peter

Fighting battles doesn’t have to be an all-out war. In fact, it’s best to leave emotions out of the picture by calming down and focusing on solving the problem in the nicest possible way. That means no petty remarks, badmouthing, digging up the past, or using other attacks that end up hurting you far more. Confront the person directly without getting angry. At any moment you feel you might be turning into The Incredible Hulk, walk away and come back when you’re not about to explode.

I’m not suggesting you be a robot about it. Ultimately, you need to get in touch with your feelings but express them in a neutral tone. Oftentimes all you need to do is let the other person know how what they are doing makes you feel. When they understand things from your perspective, they’ll be far more inclined to change. Who knows? They probably won’t even realise they’re upsetting you until you bring it up.

“Do not condemn the judgement of another because it differs from your own. You may both be wrong.” – Dandemis

Stephen Covey suggests win/win thinking. Know that there’s a way to resolve the dispute in a way that makes both of you come out on top. Find common ground by starting with things you can agree on and relate to. And don’t be condescending when it comes to offering solutions. Fact is you might be in the wrong after all. Be open-minded enough to accept that it might be your interpretations or reactions that need changing. Learn to see things from the other person’s point of view and give them the latitude to contribute to making things right.

“If you need to mention that something goes without saying, it probably doesn’t.” – Jamie Whyte

The best solution is to make sure you’re on the same page right from the start. Relationships fail due to unclear expectations or roles that tend to be blurred. Blair Singer said it best: “The best way to avoid conflict is to make sure everyone is playing by the same rules [because] in the absence of concrete rules people make up their own.”

You’ve got to know what both parties expect in any given relationship and make sure those expectations are aligned. If they’re not, you should either find a way to get them aligned or redefine the relationship. Or you could simply walk away knowing you’ve saved yourself grief down the line. Neglecting to do so is asking for trouble.

“The direct use of force is such a poor solution to any problem, it is generally employed only by small children and large nations.” – David Friedman

A final thought from Sun Tzu: “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” Ultimately, you don’t need fancy tactics to help you fight. Your brain will do just fine.

Author's Bio: 

About Me

I have been an active writer for over a decade and published my first book in August 2007. This marked the start of Varsity Blah, a personal development blog that has now received almost 250,000 hits from over 120 countries worldwide. This article is one of almost 100 posts that were compiled into my upcoming book, which was reviewed on Authonomy.com: “This is some very insightful stuff… The way the book is structured, paired with your capabilities of drawing great narrative, leads this on the right path. This cleanses the mind.”

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About My Services

Graduating from college with distinctions in financial accounting and classical piano has given me a uniquely creative approach to all I do. As a personal development copywriter, I specialise in creating content on improving health, relationships, finances, and career. This includes writing and editing articles, papers, blog posts, web copy, and much more. My professional background in marketing (as well as my extensive experience as one of the first external bloggers for the World Advertising Research Centre) means I can also provide case studies, company profiles, and whitepapers focused on branding, communications, digital media, and market research.

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