Even best friends can fight sometimes. Fights between friends can cause hurt feelings, alienation, increased possibility of future conflicts and, also, the end of friendship. To fix the relationship, you must first address the problem or fight. It can be difficult and painful, but fortunately there are positive ways to deal with arguments and conflicts, such as: planning to remedy the situation, using conflict resolution skills, enjoying positive communication and reducing future conflicts.
Method 1 of 4: Planning to Remedy the Situation
Step 1. Admit your mistakes
In order to resolve an argument, you must first understand what happened and try to unravel the reasons behind it. This is critical, as it is not possible to solve a problem if no one knows what the problem is. Planning is one of the ways to approach the situation with clarity, avoiding more fights.
- Start by trying to understand what happened from your point of view, thinking rationally about it. To look at the situation objectively, use both reason and emotion. Let's say you found out that a friend was talking bad about you behind your back. Think through all aspects of the situation. How did you find out? What did the person say? How did you handle the situation?
- To analyze the issue, it can be helpful to identify what led to the situation and what happened next. Identify the "background" (what happened before the conflict), the "behavior" (what you did) and the "consequence" (what resulted from the behavior). Let's imagine that the conflict started when your friend badmouthed you behind your back (background) and then you confronted him and led to a verbal fight (behavior). Then you didn't speak for a week (consequence).
- Understand that some fights are not necessarily a problem. It's okay to disagree with a friend sometimes or have a debate or discussion about something. The question is how the discussion is conducted - both parties must respect each other and no one must be aggressive.
Step 2. Commit to changing your behavior
Try to analyze what you did and what you think about the situation. Consider looking at the situation from another perspective to gain more clarity about the conflict and understand how it can be resolved. For example, you can promise your friend that you will do better if a similar situation occurs in the future.
- One way to do things differently is to think differently. For example, if someone says that your friend said something bad about you, is that really true?
- Another way to do things differently is to change your actions. When confronting a friend about something you've heard, is there a better way to approach the situation? Were you very angry trying to resolve the conflict? Did you say something you regretted?
Step 3. Plan a way to express what made you upset
Analyze how your friend responded to the fight. This can help you organize your ideas so that when you talk to him, you'll be able to cut to the chase and talk about what you want changed.
- Organize your thoughts and reflect on what made the situation difficult or hurt you. For example, maybe your friend called you names, which caused sadness and anger.
- Specifically identify what your friend could have done differently. For example, if he cursed you, it would have been better if he had lowered his voice, spoken calmly, and used words that were not aggressive or offensive.
Method 2 of 4: Resolving the Conflict
Step 1. Determine a time and place to talk
Discussing the situation is one of the most useful ways to resolve a fight and improve a relationship.
- If you haven't spoken in a while, try calling or texting to arrange a time to meet. You can say something like, “Hi, I wanted to talk in person. Is it okay with you if we make an appointment?"
- Avoid discussing the situation via message, email or phone. Talking in person is the best way to resolve a conflict as it reduces the risk of misinterpretation. You can't tell what tone or facial expression the person is using through a text message. You might say, “I prefer that we talk in person because I want to understand you better. Want some coffee?"
- Choose an appropriate and somewhat reserved place. Do not involve other people, as it may appear that you are plotting against your friend. Talk to him alone. Recommended places include coffee shops, your home or a park. Avoid school or the workplace, where other people are bound to be around.
- Discuss each side of the situation. First, let your friend talk about their experience and feelings. This shows that you are willing to put your thoughts aside while concentrating on what he has to say.
Step 2. Be empathetic
Having empathy for the other person increases your chances of resolving conflict in a healthy way. You might say something like: “I wanted to hear your version of the story. Can you tell me how you are feeling about what happened?”
- Put yourself in the person's shoes. How would you feel in her shoes? What would it be like to think the way she thinks and feel what she feels? Is there something going on in her life that might be affecting the situation (such as problems at school or at home)?
- Try to be understanding and understand the person's point of view. Detach yourself from your own emotions in the meantime to reduce your chances of saying something without thinking and causing an emotional reaction in the person.
Step 3. Apologize
Accept that your friend or friend has reasons to be sad, even if you don't agree.
Say something like, "I can see you are sad, so I apologize." Don't say things like, "I may have been wrong, but you made the situation worse."
Step 4. Use the collaborative problem solving technique
Work on the best solution for both parties. By working collaboratively, the two sides will be treated equally and each will work out the best possible solution to the situation.
- You can start by saying, “I really want to solve this problem with you. Do you think there is a good solution for both of us?" You can also emphasize that you are willing to work things out by saying, "I understand that I need to work on some things, so I want you to know that I am open to suggestions about what you would like me to do in the future."
- Cooperate and help the other person. Instead of thinking about your own needs, think about your wants within the context of the other person's needs, too. Is there a way to meet their needs in a healthy and safe way? Maybe you can help your friend communicate better while you learn to resolve conflicts in a healthier way.
- Don't overcommit yourself. Committing can mean getting only part of what you want, plus sacrificing a few important things. Be willing to give in a little, but not completely, giving up your wants and needs just to please someone else.
- Analyze possible solutions and reach an agreement that benefits both parties. Observe the situation and think together with the other person on how to resolve it. It might be helpful to make a list of options that you are both willing to work with. For example, if you heard that your friend was talking bad about you behind your back and you confronted him, one of the solutions might be to learn to speak more assertively instead of being aggressive - and that goes for both of you. Upon reaching a conclusion, both can agree on what can be done differently in the future.
Method 3 of 4: Using Positive Communication
Step 1. Practice assertiveness
This means that you must be able to fulfill your needs in an appropriate and respectful way. The more assertive you are, the more likely you are to get what you want.
- Be direct. Approach your friend calmly, with common sense. Listen to his point of view and explain how you feel.
- Use "I" phrases such as: "I was upset when I heard you were talking bad about me to other people." Emphasize what you feel rather than what the person has done. Always talk about feelings first to avoid the person taking the situation too emotionally or taking it personally.
- Focus on the positive aspects of the relationship. You can say something like, "Your friendship means a lot to me and I don't want this issue to affect us."
- Maintain positive eye contact. Don't stare and then look away and never avoid eye contact. Look at the person in a comfortable way, looking away only occasionally.
Step 2. Reduce aggression
Aggressive communication is based on the thought of “I don't have a problem, you have it”. This implies that you are right and the other person is wrong. Examples of aggressive communication include: raising your voice or yelling, threatening, putting the other person down (such as saying “you're an idiot”) and pointing fingers.
Avoid engaging in offensive behavior such as cursing, blaming or offending. For example, avoid saying things like, “I can't believe you did this, you idiot. I hate you." Instead, say something more assertive, such as: “I was very angry when I learned that you had been talking about me behind my back. I know I might have misinterpreted it, so can you explain your version of the story to me? I want to understand why this happened.”
Step 3. Limit passive communication
Some people back down and beg forgiveness at the first sign of a fight, even if it's not their fault. However, passive behaviors, such as avoiding conflict, are associated with more negativity in friendships.
- Don't avoid the problem, otherwise it will never be solved.
- Don't apologize for everything - just for your part of the problem. In other words, don't take the blame alone. It takes at least two people for a conflict to occur, and in most cases both exhibit behaviors that contribute to the problem.
- Look at your friend and maintain eye contact instead of looking down or fidgeting.
- Don't settle for whatever the other person decides or wants. Your needs are equally important.
Step 4. Avoid exhibiting passive-aggressive behavior
This is just a way of showing aggression in a passive way, as if, instead of openly saying how you feel, you show it in actions. These demonstrations can be confusing and offensive.
Some examples of passive-aggressive communication include: sarcasm, badmouthing the person behind their back, spreading gossip, or convincing others to dislike the person
Method 4 of 4: Reducing the possibility of fights in the future
Step 1. Keep working on friendship
Don't expect things to be resolved right away. Fights can leave traces and it can take time for everything to be resolved.
- Give space. Sometimes people need to step back to reassess issues more clearly.
- Give up having control. Trying to control your friend can generate more negativity in your relationship. Respect his wishes if he doesn't want to talk about what happened, but let him know it's upsetting you.
- Don't force him to talk about it, as this could lead to another fight.
Step 2. Manage your anger
The question is not to avoid feeling angry, but what to do when you feel that way.
- Avoid talking when you're angry. Stay away if conflict could lead to aggressive communication or violence.
- Keep calm and breathe!
Step 3. Pay attention to your own strengths
Studies show that when people focus on their own skills, knowledge and creativity, they can resolve conflicts more effectively.