Problems with friends
   
Learn how to resolve conflicts between friends
A conflict between friends

It’s completely normal for friendships to be tense at times, and for disagreements or conflicts to arise. Two people don’t necessarily share the same tastes, ideas, or ways of seeing or doing things. If you and your friend disagree, the two of you might not listen to each other or understand each other. That's when mere disagreement degenerates into conflict.


Conflict resolution strategies

There’s no magic recipe for resolving conflicts, but it is possible to learn how to cope with them. Learning how to cope with conflicts will help you keep your relationships with others solid. All too often, people wait for someone else to take the first step in resolving a problem.

If you disagree with someone, don't hesitate to go talk to them. Maybe it's all just a misunderstanding. The important thing is to choose the right moment. In addition, you can use a problem resolution method like the one described below.

Be committed. It’s important to show that you’re open, interested in the other person’s position, and committed to resolving the problem together. It’s not a competition, with a winner and loser; it’s a process you undertake together.

Don't accuse! Remember to use the "I" form throughout the discussion, to avoid making the other person feel accused or judged. Talking about your own perspective keeps the other person from feeling defensive, which makes it easier for them to treat you with respect, too. After all, there’s a world of difference between “You’re a liar” and “I have trouble believing that."!

Describe the problem. Start by identifying the situation that you’re having a problem with and what you’d like to change (for example, “I prefer to be spoken to politely, not in this tone...”).

Name your feelings. Tell the other person how the conflict makes you feel (for example, “…it makes me very angry.”).

Identify possible solutions. Together with the other person, identify possible solutions. You can even write them down on a piece of paper. At this stage, any idea is a start, so write them all down!

Assess the solutions. Together with the other person, assess all the solutions. Are any of the solutions realistic? Do any of them satisfy both of you? Will any of them resolve the problem effectively?

Come to an agreement.
Together, choose the solutions you prefer and come to an agreement you both agree to respect.

Reassess.
Some time later, check if the agreement has been respected and if the problem has been solved. Take the time to talk to your friend and review your experience. If the solution you chose hasn't worked, you can try another.


A few things to keep in mind

Respect the other person's opinions. The important thing isn’t to have everyone have the same ideas and tastes, but rather to make sure everyone feels respected and has the opportunity to express themself.

Express
your feelings when you are uncomfortable during the discussion.

Question your attitudes and behaviour. This helps avoid making everything the other person's fault! And admitting our own faults often makes others more willing to listen.

If the conflict turns violent or seems intimidating (you’re being harassed, you're afraid, etc.) don't hesitate to ask for help putting this situation to an end. Your teachers or parents, or Tel-jeunes, can help (read more here about bullying).
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