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A Nondefensive Approach To Conflict Resolution

"It's practically impossible to settle arguments when you get defensive. That's when you insist that everything you say is accurate, correct, and sensible while everything the other person says is inaccurate, wrong, and ridiculous." Anger Management Expert Dr. Ronald T. Potter-Efron


It's a common misconception that conflict is a sign of an unhealthy relationship. Conflict is a natural and healthy part of any relationship, whether at home, work, or school. It's impossible to always agree with everyone on every topic. Expecting a conflict-free life is simply unrealistic. Instead, the focus should be on developing healthy conflict-resolution skills rather than avoiding disagreements altogether.


Defensiveness


Defensiveness often penetrates our conflict resolution strategies when we instinctively decide we must protect ourselves. While self-defense is justified when facing a threat to our safety and well-being, defensiveness can signal conflict mismanagement. Defensiveness is also associated with a constant need to be correct and get your way.


The presence or even the perception of conflict can elicit strong emotional reactions. To reduce defensiveness, it's crucial to actively listen to the other person's perspective before responding. Often, we react more to the delivery of the message rather than its content.


Misinterpreting the tone instead of the actual words can lead to personalizing the message, which may result in feelings of hurt or attack. When unsure, it's advisable to seek clarification by asking, "Could you please explain what you meant by that?"


Asking for clarification may not be our first instinct during a conflict, but we must become aware of our typical responses to disagreements. By doing so, we can learn to respond thoughtfully rather than react impulsively.


Begin with healthy communication.


Effective communication is a critical element in resolving conflicts. Indeed, while communication may have contributed to the conflict, it is also the tool that will help fix it. Overlooking the opportunity to use constructive communication means the root cause of the disagreement remains unaddressed. Remember these principles for fair and healthy engagement next time you are in a conflict.


Effective communication is crucial in conflict resolution, necessitating attentive listening before responding. This approach is vital as it counters some individuals' tendency to elicit defensive reactions through provocative statements. You can evaluate how specific statements or inquiries may shape your response by listening intently before replying. For example, the person says to you:


  • "Why are you starting fights with me?"

  • "Why are you overreacting?"

  • "I guess I'm just a piece of sh*t."

  • "Believe whatever you want."

  • "Why are you so sensitive?"

  • "Why do you make everything such a big deal?"

  • "Get over yourself; it's not that serious."

  • "I don't know why I'm still entertaining you with this foolishness."


Don't instantly react by attempting to defend yourself. The conversation is not about finding faults; it is about finding an amicable solution.


In conclusion, conflicts are a natural and sometimes beneficial aspect of relationships. It's essential to discern which issues are worth your concern and to let go of those that are not. You are in control of your response.


Empowering Minds. Inspiring Lives.

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