#2 Resolving Interpersonal Conflict

classic example of conflicts

a classic example of conflicts

So, for this post, I am supposed to describe in detail an interpersonal conflict situation. I don’t know about you, but whenever the word “conflict” comes up, other than the classical example of badman and joker’s long standing conflict, there is this one incident which I will always remember. And it is this very incident which I tell my friends, especially my juniors. Whilst sharing something this personal might bring judgement and criticism from people, but I guess what I really want is for people around me to learn, and hopefully not fall into that very same trap that I did 7 years back.

Just some background information, back in my secondary school days, my CCA had 2 heads (main in-charge) and 2 vice heads (assistant in-charge).  I happened to land the role of one of the head, alongside the other in-charge, Alice (superficial name). What happened was that being young, ambitious and highly competitive, I used to view my CCA as 2 clans; one under Alice and of course, another under me, when it was really, supposed to be of just one entity. A lot of times, during leaders meeting, when decisions were being made, instead of looking out for the benefits of the entire CCA, I would be biased towards the interest of “my own group”. Being thrown with such huge power all of a sudden have led me to become hungry for more power and thirsty for more authority, which made me unreceptive to Alice’s ideas and insists on going my way for everything. This of course, resulted in resentment from the other executive committee members; even the vice-heads were fully aware and unhappy with me. But at that point in time, I realised nothing! Until things became obvious, where I was basically prejudiced and outcasted by Alice and my other 2 vice heads. It was then that I confronted Alice and the 2 vice heads. We had a long and huge argument, with each side throwing accusations and criticism at each other that led to unpleasantness me and the rest. Despite our agreement to continue working together when it comes to official matters, we stopped contacting each other apart from work related matters even after graduation. Basically, our friendship was lost.

At that moment, being young, insensitive and foolish, I just thought “They are the worst friends one can have”. It was only later on when I look back that I realised, “Thank God for all of that!” As it was only after throwing out all our frustrations and displeasure and upon reflecting on my actions that I realised what grave mistakes I’ve made back then. Those friends were the ones who have seen the worst side of me, instead of washing the linens in public; they were the ones who took the courage to confront me behind closed doors to give me feedback. They were the ones who painstakingly endured all my irrational and nonsensical moments

I have to confess that I really owe them a lot in so many ways. Without that experience, I might have been still the same old me 7 years ago; tactless and obnoxious. So, they were the ones who have made me who I am today in so many ways. Imagine you were in my shoes, what would you have done to salvage our friendship after such a huge argument and conflict? Honestly, it’s something which I really regret not handling well enough to cost myself 3 great friends.

On a lighter note, the next time you’re in a conflict, remember, whoever is giving you feedback are your true friends, because, only true friends would be courageous enough to give you feedback simply because they truly care for you and want to bring out the best in you 🙂

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4 Responses to #2 Resolving Interpersonal Conflict

  1. Joe says:

    Hi Aster, I have experienced similar mindset as yours. Being young and ambitious, I used to be very arrogant and aggressive. Time makes us grow and mature. All our experiences, pleasant or unpleasant are treasures of our life. The only way I can think about to save this friendship is to truly know my own mistakes, give sincere apologize to my friends about what I have done and do the right things later on.
    Your story is very clear, complete, coherent and concrete. But I think the following sentences might be better if the following grammar changes were made.

    during leaders meeting  during leaders’ meeting?
    I would be biased towards the interest of “my own group” I was biased towards the interest of “my own group”
    and insists on going my way  and insist on going my way
    I realized nothing! Until thing became obvious …  I realized nothing until thing became obvious…
    With each side throwing accusations and criticism at each other that led to unpleasantness me and the rest With each side throwing accusations and criticism at the others, that led to unpleasantness to me and the rest

    Joe

  2. Austen Chee says:

    Hello Aster!

    Yes, I agree with you that such incidents are common! In short, it’s very common for us to face problems in our friendship when it comes to friends working together.

    One way we can try to get around this is to promise each other not to mix arguments and disputes from work, with the friendship. However, it’s often easier said than done. Irritation from a friends working style for example, might shorten one’s patience with their friend even when it comes to leisure. Hence, this brings up the important lesson in class, which is “knowing yourself”. When it comes to such situations we need to keep an eye on our thoughts and actions to get a hold of ourselves before we cross the line and break that promise.

    Of course, in the first place, if we were careful and “knew ourselves” when working with friends, such promises would not even need to be made. But due to the stress and pressure of work, needing to meet deadlines etc, this is definitely very hard to do. Therefore, in my opinion, we all should start small, and take up the suggestion in my above paragraph.

    For this case, when things have already fallen to this point, I feel that the best way to repair the friendship is to be able to identify and admit mistakes made (if any). That has actually already been done in this post. The next thing then, is to be upfront about it to all parties involved. Perhaps, if it is still worth the effort, you can always request a get together of some sort and share your thoughts and regrets from the past. Hopefully, sincerity and effort can be felt by the other parties involved and help repair the damage.

    I personally like this post because it highlights a very problematic area of our lives, which is working with friends. However, there are some little things that I have noticed that can be changed to get the story across more smoothly.

    In the first paragraph, you mentioned
    “Whilst sharing something this personal might bring judgement and criticism from people, but I guess what I really want is for people around me to..”
    I feel that the usage of “whilst” at the start of this line negates the use of “but”. So perhaps it’s better to have it as
    “Whilst sharing something this personal might bring judgement and criticism from people, I guess what I really want is for people around me to..”

    Following that, in the 3rd pragraph, you mentioned
    “It was only later on when I look back that I realised,..”
    I’m not too clear on this but I think the use of “realized” at the end should go with “looked” earlier in the line. So it should be
    “It was only later on when I looked back that I realised,..”

    All in all, nice experience to share with us all. It is great that you can be so upfront about something so personal. I’m sure many readers will be able to identify with this story and maybe share more insights and suggestions to overcoming these sort of things.

  3. Brad says:

    Thank you, Aster, for opening up to us with this reflection on your CCA experience and the general conflict. I write general because it seems that you are describing a pattern of behavior where you “would be biased towards the interest” of your own group. One specific example, with concrete details, would bring this even further to life.

    Your question is specific: “what would you have done to salvage our friendship after such a huge argument and conflict?”

    However, though you do mention “a long and huge argument,”that doesn’t give us the sort of specifics to know how you might have reacted and recovered the friendships lost.

    The other issue is the language use:

    1) badman and joker’s >>> Batman and Joker’s

    2) Just some background information, back in my secondary school days…. >>> Background information: Back in my secondary school days….

    3) when it comes to >>> ? (tense)

    4) one of the head >>> one of the heads

    5) Being thrown with such huge power all of a sudden have led me… >>>
    Being given such huge power all of a sudden led me…

    6) which made me unreceptive to Alice’s ideas and insists … >>> ??? (verb tense?)

    7) It was only later on when I look back that I realised … >>> ?

    Still, I appreciate your effort here, Aster, for which you’ve elicited lots of feedback.

  4. weizhe says:

    Hi Aster,
    thanks for sharing your secondary school story with us! In our adolescent years, such conflicts often arise from our immaturity and tactlessness. Now that we are older and more mature, it is easier to reflect on our past mistakes. As you mentioned, what is important is that we learn from these mistakes, so as to not repeat them again.

    To answer your question, I feel that despite the years that have passed, it is not too late to salvage your friendship. While it may have been a huge argument years ago, people tend to forgive and forget. In fact, past disputes can serve as a ground to make strong bonds of friendship.

    Personally, I would drop them a text or an instant message to strike up a chat, and ask them how they have been. Since so many years have passed, I will sneak in a remark and apology for the heated, immature conflict that happened, but I definitely will not dwell on the issue. It is more important to focus on positive emotions and topics, so that both parties can move on in a friendly manner.

    As with most conflicts, it is much easier if we possessed the self-awareness and social awareness to avoid escalating the conflict in the first place. As most of these EQ skills are learned over the years through repeated conflicts, I guess what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!

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