Navigating Conflict with Friends

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By Madhu Kandasamy, Sexual Health PHE

For many students, coming to college presents a unique set of social experiences and more new people to meet and get to know during our time here. Making friends in your building and in extracurriculars can feel gratifying and can help develop a supportive circle of peers to depend upon and trust. When conflicts arise, however, it is important to know how to deal with them to make sure that both you and your friend have your voices heard.

Begin by taking a moment for yourself to consider your stance on the topic of disagreement. Are there any common points in the other person’s thinking that you agree with? What aspects are non-negotiable for you, and is there anything that you think crosses a personal boundary? If so, it’s okay to feel hurt and process any emotions that arise. If you identify any common ground, however, it might be worth considering a compromise.

Next, it is important to understand the real-life implications of arguments and how other people regard an issue that you may find straightforward. Conflicts are hard to avoid in your professional life. It’s essential that you grapple with how to address conflict now, while you’re exposed to many new and different people who are also still learning for themselves.

Finally, try to avoid closing off your feelings or exploding and letting your emotions control your interactions. Don’t let your concerns in a friendship go unheard for the sake of preserving it. It’s better to build trust by discussing your comforts and discomforts, than to feel any anger or hurt in silence. On the other hand, try to control how you speak and consider the topic at hand. Stay away from personal stings and try to cool down, preferably for a day or so, before approaching the situation again. Have a natural discussion with your friend and try to remember that you have a connection for a reason—you care about each other! Keep in mind that their experiences define their reasoning, just as your viewpoint is influenced by yours. Try to resolve the conflict by letting your voice be heard, but also by actively listening to theirs. In the end, your friendship will be stronger for it, and you’ll be glad that you were able to navigate a difficult situation with thoughtful consideration and maturity.