How Setting Intentions Can Help You Avoid Conflict while Achieving Goals

Would you have the guts to start a business with your best friend? I was traveling in Hawaii with my best friend from high school when I wrote last week’s blog article on starting relationships. This week, I’m still traveling in Hawaii and turning my attention to maintaining relationships. To maintain a relationship over decades, as my friend and I have, you must be able to avoid conflict. Sure, you’ll have  disagreements from time to time, but you want to ensure they don’t destroy your relationship. 

My friend and I are on this trip to talk through the details of bringing her in as a partner in my publishing company. Notice how I said my publishing company? Those are words I can never utter again. As of this trip, it is officially our publishing company. I have to leave my ego behind if I want this venture to succeed. 

Letting go of the ego is just one element (albeit a major one) of proactively avoiding conflict. I’ve worked with, supervised, and roomed with many people over the years, and although some conflict is unavoidable, plenty can be avoided with some preplanning and the right mindset. The following  are my practical suggestions for avoiding conflict, which I have seen in action this week with my friend. 

  1. Set the stage for open communication. Encourage everyone to say what they feel. If my new partner says something that strikes a nerve, I just say, “I don’t know why, but that’s making me feel defensive.” Then, we can explore my feelings, discover the source, and find a solution. 
  2. Express expectations from the start. We started planning this trip with the purpose of laying down the foundation for our business, which I have already started. But, she will either need to agree with my plans or we will need to work together to change them. 
  3. Set daily intentions. This has been the greatest exercise we’ve done on this trip. On the first day of the trip, we sat down and each listed the habits we want to work on; some for us as individuals and some for both of us. You can do  this with coworkers or family. 
  4. Reflect on daily intentions. We review our list in the morning or evening, and sometimes both, to see how we are doing. The list also gives us permission to call each other out on our  negative habits so we can start instilling and reinforcing new positive habits.

Here are a few examples of the intentions that we came up with:

  • Spending mindfulness and acceptance. This one was to ensure we didn’t get upset about how expensive things are in Hawaii and if there are unexpected costs, not to fret about them. 
  • Don’t take things personally (this is one of the Four Agreements from the book of the same name). This intention has enabled us to get along famously, in conjunction with the next point.
  • Don’t make assumptions (this is also one of the Four Agreements). This intention is also a great way to avoid conflict that usually starts with one person getting upset about something the other person never said or did. 
  • Make time to “just be” and go slow (aka be present). Not only does this help us appreciate where we are and the work that we are doing, it is a great way to avoid mistakes and misplacing things.
  • Eat fruit. We’re in Hawaii, and what better way not to gain travel weight.

This practice of setting intentions and reviewing them will go a long way with helping you and your partners, team, and family avoid conflict. However, as I mentioned previously, the most important thing is to leave egos out of your interactions. Letting your ego get involved will lead to jealous thoughts, selfish actions, and unempathetic choices, all of which will cause conflict. It can be challenging to recognize when your ego is taking the lead, so if you struggle with this, consider making it one of your daily intentions. 

Want to learn more about avoiding conflict or having tough conversations? Check out these upcoming training sessions: 

Crucial Conversations
February 10th & 11th from 8:30 AM – 5 PM

Personal Development Series: Interpersonal Relationships
February 16th, March 16th and April 13th from 12 – 1 PM

Conflict Resolution: Can’t we all just get Along?
February 17th from 9 – 11 AM



Laura Thorne specializes in strategy and execution through workshops, coaching, and other services. Click here to learn more about Laura’s consulting partnership with MACNY.

Want to to suggest an article topic or make a comment? Contact Laura at [email protected]