It’s rare that I get angry at my friends. I’m lucky in that I’ve mostly outgrown the girl-fights stage of my life. In the rare instances I do get annoyed with a bestie, my thought process—and subsequent—behavior, usually follows these steps:
1. Silently fume and overanalyze in my head. Decide that I am not going to be confrontational this time because it’s not worth it and this too shall pass.
2. Confront the very friend I promised myself I wouldn’t be confrontational with. Sometimes in the form of A Talk and sometimes an email. Sure, I resolved to let it go, but I can’t help myself. I want to discuss. To fix. (For a long time this was how I dealt with my romantic relationships too, for better or worse.)
3. Regret bringing it up. Confrontation, I’ve found, often results in tension and bad blood, even when everything has supposedly been worked out. With emails, I often feel better after writing said message—but worse after sending it. The issue that has me all riled up is usually something small, something I could have gotten off my chest with a simple yoga class rather than starting a whole Big Thing. (There are times when talking it out really is the best option, but usually my frustrations with friends are so minor that a confrontation isn’t necessary. Even if it is, a yoga class is still a good idea. Get zen and level-headed. If you’re still upset after you leave the mat, you know your emotions are for real.)
4. Apologize for making a bigger deal of something than necessary. Even if I was legitimately upset, I often decide to take the hit and just say I’m sorry for bringing it up because I hate being in a fight.
I realize that this general plan of attack might seem a bit crazy. I’m upset, I bring it up, I regret bringing it up, I apologize and take all blame. It’s not the best conflict resolution mechanism.
But like I said, these days I’m older, wiser, and fight much less. When I am annoyed at someone, I make a concerted effort to stop myself at step number 1. Silently fume, and then jump to 3b, the part about going to yoga to work out my frustration.
I know many of you out there might say that talking things out is always the way to go. Women love a good talk. And I think that’s true for bigger issues, things that 1) could actually be solved and 2) could ruin the friendship if not worked out. But I’ve done enough talking in my relationships—both the platonic and romantic ones—to know that discussion is not always the best course of action for me. Probably because I tend to be impatient, so I decide to have The Talk when I’m all worked up, instead of waiting until I’ve cooled down to see if confrontation is really the best route.
What are your conflict resolution strategies when it comes to your pals?