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Learn to Resolve Conflicts to Reduce Stress Eating

How often do you turn to mindless eating when you have a conflict—unexpected or ongoing—with someone? Improved conflict resolution skills will help you avoid running to food to distract or comfort yourself, tamp down boiling emotions, or soften aggrieved feelings. These tips for conflict resolution are from “As many solutions as there are conflicts” by Dennis Zink (Sarasota Herald Tribune, Business, 5/25/15, p.14)

David Hooker, public service associate of JW Fanning Institute for Leadership Development says that “a conflict exists when two ideas are trying to share space” and goes on to identify five sources of conflict:

  1. Data: lack of or misinformation
  2. Interest: competition of interests
  3. Structural: desire to control resources or time constraints
  4. Values: differing ideologies or world views
  5. Relationship: miscommunication or strong emotions

He suggests doing the following to resolve conflicts:

  1. Data: validate facts
  2. Method: point out common goals and focusing on ends over means
  3. Goals: clarify exactly what the goal is in case there is misinterpretation
  4. Values: try clarifying values to see if you are closer together than you thought

Hooker advises avoiding getting caught up in a retaliatory cycle by monitoring your: verbal and nonverbal behavior, perception of others’ hostility toward you, defensiveness, desire to counter attack, and perpetuating a back-and-forth attack cycle to “win” the debate. To resolve or end the conflict, he describes using these tactics:

  1. Compromise, which is useful to break an impasse or as a last resort
  2. Force if quick action is needed, but it sacrifices further exploration for a real solution
  3. Avoidance when risk outweighs gain and postponing a decision might be useful
  4. Accommodation if an issue isn’t important to you, as long as you don’t do it often
  5. Collaboration, which though time-consuming provides a win-win result

Think about the people in your life with whom you have a great deal of conflict—children, parents, colleagues, bosses, spouses or partners. Which of these methods do you and the other person generally employ? What works and what doesn’t? What might work better? Learn to resolve conflicts and you’ll do less stress eating.

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