Conflicts are inevitable. Whenever you work, communicate or travel with others, there’s a chance you might end up arguing, having silent days or simply becoming passive aggressive. One of the common tactics is avoidance, but trust me avoiding a conflict won’t get you anywhere. That is why we’ve prepared some tips for you on how to resolve conflict on the road. Traveling is a social activity (even when you decide to travel solo), so chances are that the group dynamics might take a toll on you dream journey. And nobody wants that – that is why you need to do nip all conflicts in the bud. And we want you to find out how to resolve conflict on the road!
Some people think that there is no chance they will end up in a conflict on road, during their dream holiday. That would be only true if you decided to embark on a solitary cruise around the world without chances of seeing anyone, or maybe deciding to go on a solo North Pole expedition. But, even then you wouldn’t be totally alone. You would have to communicate. And while communication does not cause conflicts, it usually triggers them. When communicating we express our needs, desires, fears. We communicate our attitudes, views, but very often we also communicate the past grudges and forgotten emotions that surface in the most unconvenient time. Usually, when we travel with the loved ones. Why? Because all the sudden we are in an environment that is somehow limited to a certain time and situation. Sometimes this environment becomes relatively small when we are on the road – a car, a train compartment, a row of seats on a plane or even a hotel room. And when we travel we very often have our own demons and fears to fight with. We are often challenged to act differently, we have things to discover about ourselves. That is all very fine, but it can still be somewhat stressful.
Over the years, I’ve observed, learned and experimented a lot with this area of psychology that is all about conflict resolving. I have tried different methods to resolve conflicts between myself and others, between the employees I’ve managed and between people who love each other, but somehow turn into enemies. Over the years I have realized that what holds people back in business, friendships and personal intimate relationships is the same thing. We’re all afraid to talk. And sometimes we simply lack the skill and knowledge on how to talk.
This can seem almost ridiculous – we all talk and communicate. We put our thoughts into words, words into phrases since we are kids. But that does not necessarily mean we know how to do it properly. When we put thoughts, emotions and needs into words we code them. Then we decide on the channel we want to pass them through to another human being that eventually has to do the job of decoding what we’ve coded and find out what was behind the words. And we very often fail at every single step of this process. And that leads to is a conflict. The simple “you should have known that I do not like mussels” turns into “he does not love me anymore”. The nuances of human thoughts are sometimes hard to understand. But the worst thing we can do is assume, yes, simply assume, we get the other person without clearing it out. When we decide to travel together, as a family, group of friends, group of relatives or whatever other group comes to mind, we should make sure that every step of planning, traveling, scheduling is clearly communicated and that no hidden emotions lurk beneath the smiles to burst out in the least appropriate situation with “I hated the idea of this cruise from the very beginning”… Yeah, so why didn’t you say so? “Because I knew you loved it and I thought I can make it”. Or sometimes worse “I thought you could have figured out!!!”.
I would say that an argument, quarrel and a strong emotional response is still better than avoiding the obvious. However, we seem to do everything we can to avoid conflict and the person we’re conflicted with. And when we travel we do not avoid them physically, but we turn into a little passive aggressive troll that questions everything, by actually giving some sort of a twisted set of signals. What results? Unresolved issues, misperceptions about another person’s intentions, escalated negativity, and an overall lack of progress. So my simple solution when you are engaged in a conflict or managing the conflict between others: Talk. And if it does’t help. Talk more!!! And if that does not work out for you TALK EVEN MORE. I have gathered some things you might want to try to resolve (and not to play hide and seek with) the conflict. Read them, think of them and give them a chance. Here are my favourite five techniques to make sure a conversation happens as soon as possible.
Realize everyone’s good intentions to resolve conflict
Call me a fool, but I truly believe people generally have good intentions. But those good intentions sometimes are not well expressed or lead to something counterproductive. The same is with compromise. I you want to travel to the Baltic Sea and your loved one wants to travel to Tatra Mountains it does not mean that meeting halfway is all about spending time on Polish plains near Łódź. It means you have to make an honest decision – this year we go here, next year we go there. Do not become a martyr and then throw it in people’s faces. Regardless of the issue and how you deal with it, I believe that most people are coming from a position of sincerity and true belief. They’re not trying to cause trouble. They simply believe in their position. And that is why it’s best to understand the position but also to clearly state yours.
Resist the urge to solve the problem to resolve conflict
It’s easy to want to take sides to move a decision along. Take the time to listen to the complaints. I tell my folks not to bring me an issue with another person until they tell me they have already talked to them and tried to work it out independently. Learn to listen and don’t surprise the other side with the “VOILA, I’ve changed the holiday plans for us” just because you thought it would be better.
Encourage in-person conversations to resolve conflict
The only way to resolve an issue permanently is through a real, open conversation, ideally face to face. No email, no social media, no texting. Trust me – I know people who do that even locked in one car traveling long distances. And do not take emissaries to pass the news either. Whether live or over the phone, you need a scenario in which you can listen for voice tone, or watch for body language. And to make sure you understand those signals clearly. How? Simply by paraphrasing or clarifying.
If you have to, take a side to resolve conflict
If two people have already talked and still have yet to resolve the conflict (which, in my experience, happens rarely), offer to help resolve the situation by getting everyone to the table at the same time. Give both sides a chance to be heard, and only then make your decision. That applies to people who travel in larger groups. Do not try to get people on the other side of the Atlantic involved by Skype!
Preach about your philosophy about conflict to help others and yourself
That one works especially well if you travel with people you know relatively less than your family. From day one you should advocate and state clearly that “on this boat (ship, car, trip, canoe) we talk”. Make sure people understand you want honest. Even if they are afraid to tell you the truth. But make sure to walk the walk and not only to talk the talk. Make sure your message and methodology for dealing with conflict (if you have a problem with someone, stop, think, talk, and resolve) is clear and valued among your fellow travellers.
Traveling is meant to be about exploring and discovering the world around us. It’s also about discovering the truth about ourselves, our fears, challenges and hidden demons. But for me, it’s most importantly about becoming a better person. A person who knows how to talk.
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