There are lots of obvious ways to be happier! These include exercising, time with friends, having a career you enjoy, taking vacations, eating chocolate :-), and thinking and being more positive! The suggestion I am going to make is to address conflict more proactively in your life whether at work or at home. In my first career as an outreach counselor, I developed a program to assist elementary students to deal with conflict. The teachers really found it made an impact not only among the students but with staff as well. I find now, working mostly with adults, conflict is still a major issue that tends to be ignored creating tension for all parties involved.
My colleague, Ed Evarts and I recently facilitated a webinar, Navigate Conflict for Success. We were happily shocked to find out that over 800 people signed up for this webinar. Conflict is one of those elephants in the room situations. It sometimes is easier for most to avoid rather than address.
A 2008 CPP Global Human Capital Report surveyed 5,000 full time employees in nine countries across the globe. The results support the need for all of us to address conflict more productively. 85% of all employees at all levels experience conflict to some degree. Employees in the United States spent 2.8 hours per week dealing with conflict. 27% of employees have witnessed conflict morph into a personal attack. 25% of employees say that the avoidance of conflict resulted in sickness or absence from work. There it is…you can see the amount of stress that conflict is causing on a daily basis.
I teach my clients a four step process to have in their tool box to address conflict. The first step is Assess. Assess the conflict. What are the facts, impact and importance of resolving? The second step is Plan. This is the step where your own self awareness is key. You need to be really clear on the natural strengths of your personality and also your blind spots. In MBTI language there is a term we call being in “the grip” when you are really stressed. Many conflicts can be prevented when we focus on how we are behaving and take responsibility for what we bring to the situation. The third step is Engage. How will you start the conversation, hear them out, look for areas of agreement and walk your talk! The final step is monitor. This is where you check in with yourself and the other person involved to check on the progress as time goes on. Conflict is not a black and white situation but you will see your skills improve once you make the conscious decision to deal with conflict situations.
It sounds strange that dealing with conflicts can actually make someone happier, but the research does support this idea. As we continue to ignore conflict, individuals end up having more health and stress related issues. Sometimes it is just taking that first step of assessing that can result in a more productive, happier day!