Don’t Turn Ant Hills into Mole Hills – 3 Simple Steps to Help Manage Conflict

We all experience conflict. Whether it is in a relationship, at work, or with yourself personally. Conflict is something none of us can escape. It’s another factor of life, of being an adult, and just the way of the world. Disagreements will happen, misunderstandings are exchanged, and miscommunication can take place no matter how thorough we think we are. It’s all directly related to being a human being and the fact that human error is very real. So if conflict is inevitable, then the only way to reduce your stress when it occurs is to manage conflict or change the way you deal with it. Or in other words “don’t turn ant hills into mole hills” (don’t make situations worse than what they actually are).

I think we can all agree that our initial reaction to conflict is, panic. Because at that moment in time, when we find out that something has gone wrong our brain doesn’t let us look at the brighter side of the situation. We just know that something is “messed” up and is not how it should be or should have been. We instantly think “Oh no! There’s no way that it can be fixed.” This isn’t the case in most situations.  I would say that a majority of the time, the conflict can be resolved and everything works out. Sure it might take a few phone calls, emails, conversations or what have you. But ultimately, it will be fine. And… it kind of has to be.

So how can we side step the panic and get straight to solving the problem? Check out the three simple steps I’ve included below:


You might laugh at how simple this step is, but deep breathing is one of the easiest ways to relieve stress and anxiety which are both directly related to panic. According to an article written by Stephan Kozub for The Verge, in a study led by Patricia Gerberg, an assistant clinical professor in psychiatry at New York Medical School, Gerberg conducted a study on Pranayama (the meditative breathing exercises that are used in yoga practice) and stated the following “By changing patterns of breathing, we can change our emotional states and how we think and how we interact with the world”. This is huge. Something that we all can easily do that requires the smallest amount of effort! So when you feel you’re self-getting “jazzed” up in the result of being faced with conflict, breathe. And make sure it’s a deep breath. In through your nose, and out through your mouth.


Once you’re in a better mental state, then react. Especially if you have the time to do so. I know that this may not always be the case, as some conflict requires a quick, if not, instant response.  But if you have the time, breathe then hop to it. When we reach a manic state typically anger takes the lead. It’s good to be firm, or assertive but to be overwhelmed in anger only makes the situation worse, and frankly, makes you look unpleasant. So contact who you must, to get the issue fixed, send the emails, talk to the manager or a higher up or what have you, but do so in a respectful and calm manner.

Move Forward.

Regardless of the outcome you must move forward. Dwelling on a situation will not change what has taken place and only allows you to stir in your anger. Let it go.  Especially if the conflict is resolved and everything is how it should have been.  Like I mentioned previously, most conflicts can be resolved. But for those instances that are a loss or don’t work out in your favor. Use it as a learning experience. Is there something you could have done better? Could you have communicated more clearly? How can you prevent this conflict from reoccurring? And then apply this entire discovery to a future situation.





AboutSamantha Dunifon

Samantha Dunifon is a guest blogger for Proforma with a background in operations and event/meeting planning. Originally from Lima, OH Samantha moved to Cleveland in March of 2016. She is a graduate of Bowling Green State University, and enjoys spending time with her family and friends, playing volleyball, and finding good food and fun in Cleveland.

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