Relationships are precious, and most of the time, we are entirely engaged. At other times issues arise, not because of waning interest. We become complacent and behave in ways that do not strengthen the relationship leading to conflict. Fostering a strong relationship is built on positive attributes like healthy communication, cooperation, and balancing priorities versus the demands of our time. When there is a relationship conflict, it is crucial to understand the sources of the conflict.
The origins of the conflict are likely:
The other person ignores your needs.
There is a difference in what you both value and consider necessary for the relationship's health.
Differing perceptions of what is happening in the relationship.
You are feeling unheard and unappreciated by the other person.
You feel taken for granted.
We must understand that we are responsible for our actions to resolve a conflict. Therefore invest less time in what caused the disagreement and more time in understanding how the tension affects the present functioning of the relationship. We are likely to engage in a circular conversation discussing causality leading to further conflict and less time finding a solution.
Consequently, spend less time complaining, blaming, and criticizing. Dr. William Glasser shares that if complaining, blaming, and criticizing is the chosen strategy to address your issues, the problem will linger for longer without a resolution. Instead of complaining and finding faults, consider if you are pleased with your choices and their impact on your relationship.
You will probably shout, criticize, hurt, and attack the other person if angry. To minimize an angry outburst, consider the opposite of the angry reaction, validate the other person's feelings, and use your soft skills to de-escalate the situation. Validating what you hear is not the same as agreeing or accepting but acknowledging that you hear the other person.
Be mindful of the benefit of validation in communication. It shows you are listening to understand even if you are not agreeing and helps minimize the other person's "flight to safety." The "flight to safety" can lead to stonewalling or resentment toward you.
For conflict management, consider the following:
Communication is usually a great place to begin since it clarifies individual needs. Healthy and effective communication that expresses your needs and respectfully acknowledges the other person's needs.
Take responsibility for your actions.
Apologize for your role in the conflict. An apology remains a crucial step in conflict management.
Avoid passive, aggressive, and passive-aggressive communication.
Make decisions that benefit the relationship.
Recognize when you are involved in a circular conversation (it does not lead to a resolution).
Fault finding is not the same as addressing the conflict.
Recognize if you are using defensive listening (interpreting a clear statement as an attack).
Remember, the goal of communication is to be heard and understood.
Communication is the principal tool for maintaining a healthy relationship. Without healthful communication, there is no understanding of individual needs and opportunities for problem-solving.
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