10 Steps For Resolving Conflicts With Your Friend11 min read

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This article is dedicated to my friend, Diogu Uchechukwu Romeo.

“I thought we were friends!” I yelled at Romeo, “You know I’ve been working in school since morning and you didn’t care to prepare food for me. You know I would have done the same for you!”

I had just returned to the hostel late at night after much work in school, only to find no food in the room. I felt entitled – Romeo as my close friend and roommate should have prepared me some food. 

But his reply struck me; “Do you know whether I too have eaten?!”, he yelled back, “Do you know whether I’ve been busy all day as well?! Why you go dey shout for me like that?!”

Whether it’s similar to that of Romeo and I or not, chances are you may have had one conflict or the other in your friendships. It’s almost impossible to avoid them because we have different personalities which may contrast at some point. 

But why would you consider resolving a conflict with your friend? Let’s discuss its importance and how to effectively do so. 

13 Reasons Why You Usually Have a Conflict With Your Friend

“Friends are the siblings God never gave us.” – Nigerian Proverb

The specific reasons for having a conflict with your friend may vary. But it usually revolves around;

  1. Misunderstanding or miscommunication
  2. Disrespect
  3. Betrayal
  4. One-sidedness – when one is contributing less than the other in the friendship. 
  5. Resentment, or pent-up anger from a previous hurting
  6. Jealousy
  7. Having opposing values, views or beliefs. Like when you’re a catholic and your friend is an atheist. 
  8. Unmet expectations
  9. Increased liking gap which suggests that most people underestimate how much their friends like them. This may be a coping mechanism to keep themselves from getting hurt. And there are studies which tend to prove them right. 
  10. Feeling of entitlement
  11. Developmental disorders such as autism can cause conflicts in a friendship as there may be difficulty in communication leading to misunderstanding. 
  12. Cognitive biases including negativity bias, false consensus bias, attribution bias, self-serving bias, etcetera. 
  13. Outside factors like having a bad day due to hormonal imbalance or mood swings, family disputes, relationship problems etcetera. 

And so on

Also, while you may think your friend is at fault, you should evaluate where you may have gone wrong and take responsibility. 

“If friends disappoint you over and over, that’s in large part your own fault.”

— Oprah Winfrey

7 Importance of Resolving a Conflict With Your Friend

Some friends na werey. Sometimes, you tend to wonder how you became friends with them in the first place.

Maybe getting to know them better exposed their true colours – irrational, whiny, lazy, dirty, amoral, addict, etcetera – so ending the friendship seem to be the best option. 

Also Read: 23 Things Toxic Friends Do, and How To Cut Them Off

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

– African Proverb

Maintaining a solid friendship, given the quirks, can be challenging. But the following are reasons why ending it should not be the first thing you consider;

1. It helps you improve on your flaws

Nobody is perfect, not even you. While you may not notice it most times, you may actually be a hell of a pain in the ass.

When you and your friend have conflicts, the ensuing conversation may help you realize your shortcomings, embrace humility, and make improvements.

For example, if a friend continually interrupts you when you are making a complaint, only to explain how they are having it worse, it may lead to an outburst and conflict. 

However, experiencing such conflicts can make you conscious of your own tendency to say things like, “You neva see something. My own worst pass your own.” – bragging like having a bigger plight than your friend was a trophy or badge of honour. 

Also Read: 10 Ways To Develop Self-Awareness as a Young Adult [The Beginner’s Guide]

2. It helps you build patience

Most conflicts take time to resolve. This can encourage you to build patience given that you appreciate the worth of your friendship.

Also, the mere experience of letting your anger wear off before responding to a friend you wish to keep can help you know better when you encounter other situations that need you to tame your emotions.

3. It helps you build better communication skills

Effective communication often comes in handy when resolving conflicts. And, conflicts are also a good time to practice effective communication; and you know what they say about practice. 

4. It helps you learn empathy

Resolving conflicts in friendship can enable you to build empathy since it forces you to acknowledge and respect your friend’s perspective.

5. It helps you avoid drama and stress

Unresolved conflict with your friend can make you irritable, resentful, and lonely. Resolving them restores sanity, and the effects spread to your other endeavours.

6. It can enhance group success

Conflict in friendship inhibits productivity and reduces the possibility of achieving group goals which may be highly detrimental.

Ergo, resolving conflicts with your friend can facilitate teamwork and make collective success more likely. 

7. It can build trust and deepen bonds

Conflict resolution can make your friendship even stronger, since you now have a better understanding of each other, and strive to maintain healthy relations in your dealings. 

In either of the cases mentioned above, applying Graded Absolutism can help you keep your ego in check and prioritize something of a much higher moral value – friendship and its many benefits.

“A single bracelet does not jingle.”

– Nigerian Proverb

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How To Resolve Conflicts With Your Friend

Resolving conflicts with your friend can be challenging. You may begin to wonder how you can confront your friend without ruining the friendship. And how you can also improve your way of dealing with your friend (in order to avoid future conflicts).

In any case, there are several steps you can take to resolve conflicts with your friend. Thankfully, they can be useful to prevent future conflicts as well.

“There is no better mirror than a best friend.”

-African Proverb

Here are some steps you can follow:

1. Identify the cause of the conflict

If you want to kill a tree, it is usually best to uproot it so you reduce its likelihood to grow. This is also the same for conflict resolution in friendships. 

Your first step should be to identify why there is a conflict in the first place. This may be due to an event or behaviour, usually one that has been recurrent, such as the habit of calling you insulting names – fool, idiot, ewu, etcetera – whether playfully or not. 

2. Timing 

While Romeo may have had the impulse of addressing my then seemingly undue feeling of entitlement towards him, discussing it with me when I just got news of a relative’s death would have proved counterproductive.

Know when it’s most appropriate to address your differences in a friendship so you don’t end up making things worse. But ensure it doesn’t take too long so the bottled-up emotions don’t lead to an outburst.

3. Communicate: 

Speaking of bottled-up emotions, your friend is likely not a psychic so they may not even know that they hurt you. Hence, you should speak up.

Talk to your friend in a calm and respectful manner – mind your tone and language. Share how you feel and try to understand their perspective as well. And as much as you possibly can, avoid playing the blame game and getting defensive. That can lead to an escalation and only make things worse. 

4. Empathize

It is easy to judge someone for their actions when you don’t understand why they did it. It is also just as easy to create a lot of drama by so doing. 

Rather than impulsively calling out your friend about their actions or habits, practice empathy. Endeavour to find out why they acted that way, see reason with them, then, if you must, criticize them constructively and respectfully. 

5. Listen more and talk less 

It is not a competition of experiences – of who has had a greater encounter than the other – or of who is in the right or wrong. Chances are, there are nuances about the situation you are unaware of, so listen more and talk less.

Endeavour to understand your friend’s perspective. Seek clarification by asking questions thereby validating their feelings. This will increase the susceptibility of them realizing their own shortcomings and apologizing, as well as you learning something new about them. 

6. Find common ground

Nothing says “I understand and respect you” and calms people down like acknowledging they were right. When you actively point out a common ground between you and your friend amidst a conflict, especially before you make objections, you ease them up thereby encouraging them to understand you.

This usually waves off the idea that you’re trying to win the argument. It also facilitates finding a solution that works for you both.

7. Apologize if necessary

As earlier mentioned, endeavour to never play the blame game. If you’ve done something to contribute to the problem, apologize and take responsibility for your actions. 

This shows your friend that you’re committed to finding a resolution. It also encourages them to reciprocate and apologize if they too have fallen short in some areas.

8. Compromise 

Endeavour to find a solution that works for you both. If the conflict is caused by the violation of a personal boundary, then understanding and negotiating that boundary can prevent future problems.

For instance, if you like to read silently, you can choose to tolerate your friend and roommate reading aloud as that may be the only way they can understand what they’ve read. 

If it’s just too uncomfortable, work on a schedule together that benefits you both. And if you can’t help the situation, compromise sometimes – no too dey reason am. 

This can encourage your friend to return the favour if the need arises, which will strengthen the friendship.

“Search for a friend with no faults and you will remain with no friends.”

-African Proverb

9. Engage in fun activities together

When people enjoy an activity with someone, they tend to associate that feeling with that person which can create a strong bond between them.

You can resolve conflicts and strengthen your friendship by playing games together, going to shows, having double dates, buying each other gifts and so on.

It’s always nice to feel appreciated. And, even if you’re not at the receiving end, initiating it can make you feel great and encourage your friend to reciprocate in the future. 

10. Respect their opposing views

You mustn’t agree with all a person says or does to enjoy a friendship with them, as long as you respect each other’s views. I know Christians who are good friends with Muslims.

To effectively follow the above-mentioned steps, you should practice self-awareness and emotional intelligence

Keep in mind that resolving problems with friends takes time and effort, but it’s worth it to maintain a strong and healthy friendship.

“Because of you, I laugh a little harder, cry a little less, and smile a lot more.”

Conclusion

“Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It’s not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.”

– Muhammad Ali

Romeo’s reply made me realize how insensitive I was. But I wasn’t emotionally intelligentI been dey ment. So that incident kept us cold toward each other for most of the next day until we talked things over and settled later that evening. 

While contributions from both parties may not be completely equal, friendships are best to be symbiotic. So after actively trying to make your friendship work, it is okay to end it if your friend constantly;

  • betrays, 
  • gossips,
  • disrespects,
  • contributes little or nothing to the friendship,
  • grows apart etcetera.

However, bear in mind that it’s natural to have conflicts in friendships and it creates an opportunity to strengthen them.

So whenever you have a conflict, recollect all we discussed in this article to better navigate the situation and have a suitable outcome.

“When two friends fight, a stranger wins.”

– African Proverb

I enjoy literary works (especially in the form of books and songs) and learning about human psychology.

I’m also interested in intellectual development, fitness/athleticism, and waste management.

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