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A Therapist’s Advice on How to Handle Conflict

A Therapist's Advice on How to Handle Conflict

Have you ever felt like you were treated unfairly? Perhaps you’ve worked hard on a project, but someone else on your team got the credit. Or, maybe you know you have the gifts and talents to excel in a certain role, but you’ve been overlooked and undervalued. Is there someone you’re close to who continually does something (or doesn’t do something) that makes you so irritated you tell them off in your head every time you think about the situation?

Been there. Haven’t we all?

Regardless of the circumstances, we all find ourselves interacting with other human beings—and human beings are flawed (including you). So, we’ll rub each other the wrong way, say or do hurtful things, and frustrate the heck out of one another from time to time. That’s inevitable, but there is something we can do about it. And no, it doesn’t involve saying all the things you’ve thought in your head out loud. But it does involve talking about it—with that person directly.

Dr. Zoe Shaw, a friend and weekly writer at The Grit and Grace Project online magazine, actually sussed this out for one of our readers the other day. The woman who submitted a question was having an issue with someone she interacted with on a weekly basis, and she asked for Dr. Zoe’s professional opinion on how to handle the matter. I loved Dr. Zoe’s advice, and think it’s so applicable to so many situations.

Check out what Dr. Zoe had to say about healthy confrontation:

You are asking a great question, but to the wrong person. Of course you are brooding about this. I would be too! But brooding about a situation when the person who has the answer is right in front of you is the biggest waste of emotional energy and time. The best way to get your answer is to be as direct as possible. Simply ask the hard question… 

Sometimes it’s hard to assert ourselves as women, but when we don’t ask the difficult questions, we tend to make more problems for ourselves and our relationships.

You are feeling jealous, frustrated, and angry because you made up a story about your situation, which may or may not be true. Are you truly not being appreciated and valued or is he making an assumption…? Stop making up stories. I promise you will feel relieved when you get the real answer from him. And if he is vague, press for clarity. Once you get your answer, you can make a decision about your next step. And whatever you choose to do, your reaction will be based on what is real, not imagined.

So, my friend, Ask Dr. Zoe Advicemaybe it’s time we stop making up stories and creating internal dialogues and simply talk to the person with whom we’re having an issue. Brilliant.

Take a deep breath and tap into your grit and grace. You got this, girlfriend! (And thanks, Dr. Zoe!)

(If you want to submit a question to Dr. Zoe too—and even anonymously! Simply click here to do so.)

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Don’t be fooled by Ashley’s quiet presence. She’s an internal processor who just might overthink from time to time. When she’s not caught up in her thoughts, she’s usually writing them or enjoying the thoughts of others. She’s a wife, new mom, and lover of all things pretty.

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