our everyday life

How to Deal With a Conflict With Close Friends

by Tamara Runzel

Conflict is inevitable in any relationship. At some point, friends are bound to disagree or misunderstand some situation. Conflict happens when two or more people disagree about "their perceptions, desires, ideas or values," according to the University of Texas Counseling and Mental Health Center. Friends are a necessary part of life. So when conflict occurs, deal with it and work to resume the friendship as quickly as possible.

Think about the situation before you talk to your friend. Figure out exactly what you’re upset about and what you hope to accomplish when you talk to her.

Assess your feelings and decide if you’re overreacting to the situation. Maybe you got caught up in the heat of the moment and got upset over something that now seems less significant.

Talk to your friend as soon as possible after the conflict occurs. Avoid talking to anyone else about the issue before you talk to your friend. Talking to others can lead to gossip, people picking sides and possibly even bigger issues, according Kristin Feenstra's article on the "Power to Change" website.

Explain the situation clearly to your friend using only facts. Stick to the current issue causing the conflict, and don’t bring up old issues or past hurts.

Talk about how you feel after you state the facts. Use “I” rather than “you” phrases when you explain your feelings. For example, rather than say, “You make me frustrated when you don’t call to cancel our plans,” try, “I feel frustrated when our plans are canceled.”

Pay attention to your nonverbal cues, such as body movement, voice and facial expressions, to make sure your body isn’t conveying a different message than your words. If you’re becoming too emotional, take a break and figure out a better time to talk once you’ve calmed down.

Ask your friend to explain how she feels about the issue. Maybe there are other issues going on in her life that you aren't aware of that contribute to the conflict between the two of you.

Pay attention to what your friend is saying as well as his feelings and nonverbal cues. Keep quiet and don’t interrupt, get upset or make any judgments.

Acknowledge your friend’s feelings and repeat some of what she said back to her. For example, when she’s done talking, you might say, “I didn’t realize you’ve been under so much pressure at work. Dealing with X, Y and Z has put a lot of pressure on you.”

Apologize for the conflict. Whether you feel you’re to blame or not, an apology is more likely to garner a positive response from your friend, Feenstra says.

Talk about possible solutions with each other and come to an agreement on what works best for both of you. You might have to compromise to save the friendship.

Contact a mediator if you can't resolve the situation on your own. Depending on the context of your relationship, a mediator might be available through work or school.

About the Author

Tamara Runzel has been writing military, parenting, family and relationship articles since 2008. Runzel started in television news, followed by education before deciding to be a stay at home mom. Her articles have appeared in military publications as well as numerous online publications. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication from University of the Pacific.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images