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How to Deal with Unresolved Conflicts


Conflict is an inevitable part of life. We encounter conflict all the time in our lives, whether it is at work, at home, in relationships or even within ourselves. People dread conflict as it brings uncomfortable emotions and situations that one has to deal with. But conflict exists to serve a purpose in our lives; it indicates the contradiction between beliefs and actions within oneself or between people.

Conflicts provide us with an opportunity to move forward by examining issues more carefully and by understanding them from a different point of view. Furthermore, it challenges us to develop creative and cooperative solutions. Conflict is the root of change.

Situations of conflict involving major life decisions can include whether to take up a new job or stick to the current one, whether to break up with your partner or figure out a way to make it work, or to work over the weekend and get ahead of your peers or take a break and meet an old friend while he or she’s in town?

Conflicts can be both external and internal. Either type of conflict can be an opportunity to learn and bring constructive change or it can become a defining event leading to chaos. 

Read on to know more about internal, external conflicts and unresolved conflicts.

  • What is internal conflict? (Interpersonal Conflict)
    • Internal conflicts are conflicts that arise due to opposing beliefs and actions in a person’s mind. . They often keep running in the back of your mind, causing stress that interferes with daily functioning. They can hamper your decision-making ability and can also lead to overthinking if left unresolved.
    • Internal conflicts can also pop up when there’s a conflict between what one should do and what one wants to do. Each side of an internal conflict signifies a need that’s important to you.
  • What is external conflict? (Interpersonal Conflict) 
    • External Conflicts are conflicts that take place between two or more people in an environment. It could be at the workplace, at home or with friends and family.
    • This is the type of conflict you have with your partner when he/she wants something else from you on his/her birthday and you give them something else. With a coworker, it could be a conflict based on the quality of work or the way one behaves or dresses in a work environment or about whose fault it was when the presentation didn’t work.
    • These conflicts often require mediation by a third party as the people involved in the conflict can become emotionally charged and develop biases, which could hurt people in the relationship.
    • When authorities are asked to intervene, it is crucial to pay attention to the issue at hand rather than the people involved in it. Such conflicts can be resolved effectively if the concerns of both parties are heard and addressed.

Unresolved Conflicts

A recent study conducted on unresolved conflicts at the workplace found that it was a major factor for increased sick leaves due to mental health issues. Unresolved conflicts lead to malignant shaming among co-workers which causes them to work overtime, further deteriorating their mental health.

When conflict is left unresolved it intensifies and spreads, affecting everyone in that environment. Ever noticed how one angry person at the office spreads it across and makes it a bad day for everyone at the office? Most people might dismiss such behavior as the day goes on. But such conflicts become a major concern when the tension keeps on building and doesn’t resolve. This is when it starts to affect work efficiency and collaboration between co-workers. For students conflicts between team members can affect the quality of a project.

Effects of Unresolved Conflict on Mental Health 

Unresolved Conflicts can affect mental health by gradually causing anxiety, depression, stress, self-esteem issues or insomnia.

When a certain issue keeps on lingering in your environment or your mind for long periods, it can evoke frustration and an inability to cope up causing mental health problems in the long run. This inability to cope with the situation initially incites emotional reactions between people involved, causing unexplained snapping at others or denying any responsibility altogether. As time passes, you find yourself ruminating and your frustration starts to hamper your mental health drastically. 

Conflict Management 

Conflicts cannot be avoided completely. Avoidance could on the contrary signal an unhealthy coping mechanism. Conflict management enables one to deal with internal and external conflicts effectively.

Discussing the problem at hand with the intervention of a third party, along with compromising on certain points and collaborating helps in resolving conflict. Internal conflict can be more difficult to analyze and take action against, seeking professional help can become important in such situations. Hence, we provide quick and accurate conflict diagnosis backed by leading professionals in the industry with our self-help app