A new year brings with it hopes of peace, prosperity, health and well-being. But maintaining peace in our lives is not always an easy task. Our busy lives provide us with increasingly lesser patience for people around us, leading us to invest lesser time and effort in building strong personal and professional relationships. Misunderstandings arise because of our lack of understanding for each other, which may result in a higher occurrence of conflict happening at home or at the workplace.

To help counter such unpleasant happenings, here are seven tips that can empower you to make 2016 your conflict-free year.

  1. Communicate clearly and respectfully

Miscommunication can lead to misunderstandings that then blow up into a conflict. Think before you speak and try to be clear in your communication while being respectful to the other party during the entirety of the conversation. Softening your responses with mild words like “maybe”, “possibly”, “perhaps”, instead of words that have a stronger connotation like “always”, “absolutely” or “never”, shows the other party you are open and understanding to what is being shared.

  1. Be accepting of differing viewpoints

Differences in backgrounds, education, culture etc. can influence the way people think and act. Do not be dismissive of opinions that vary from yours. Instead, seek common ground between yourself and the other person. Showing the will to compromise instead of holding on to your own opinion can prevent differences from escalating to a conflict.

  1. Be a good listener

Give others your full attention when talking to them. Listen patiently to what they say and refrain from making quick judgements. Ask questions if you don’t understand what is being said, this would show that you are actually paying attention to what the other party has to say. Being a good listener prevents misunderstandings and also shows people that you care about them.

  1. Maintain your calm

Control your emotions even when you feel strongly that the other person is in the wrong. Do not react vehemently to things that upset you. Instead, make it a habit to deal with negative situations calmly. This helps you to be rational in your responses and prevents you from doing anything that can aggravate the situation further.

  1. Take a time-out

Avoid responding to anger with anger. If you feel you are on the verge of losing your control, step away from the scene for a short while. Taking a break helps you to relax and reassess the situation so that you are able to deal with it better.

  1. Apologise when you are in the wrong

Do not hesitate to apologise when you realise that you are at fault. A simple, sincere sorry can swiftly defuse a conflict, both at home and at the workplace. It should not matter if the person you are apologising to is your subordinate. Admit your mistake and work towards remedying it.

  1. Learn to forgive

Be generous in forgiving others when they make a mistake. Whenever you feel you have been wronged, ask yourself if you can let the matter go. It may not be worth engaging in a conflict over small issues.

Dealing with conflicts is always unpleasant as it fills you with negative energy that in turn, could affect other aspects of your life. It is also definitely not the best use of your time. So, start off your year right and lead a conflict free one with these simple tips!