Managing conflict in relationships
No relationship is perfect. There will be ups and downs in any relationship. Conflict is normal and happens in all relationships.
Communication is especially important when there is a conflict. Listen to each other, respect differences, compromise, talk about past disagreements and figure out what to do differently in the future.
Although conflict is normal, too much criticizing, demanding, name-calling, holding grudges and other negative behavior will damage and can eventually destroy the relationship.
It is important to avoid negative thinking patterns, such as thinking the worst about the other person or jumping to negative conclusions.
Rules for managing conflict
In a serious relationship, sooner or later you will probably have a real conflict over an issue you both feel strongly about. Next thing you know, you are having a full-blown fight. If you can handle it, you (and the relationship) can survive it. Recognize that it's up to you to keep the fight from escalating into something that will leave permanent damage.
- Avoid name-calling, blaming, put-downs, and sarcasm. Catch yourself being defensive, overly critical, or blaming, and stop.
- If your partner voices a complaint, avoid being defensive or "flipping the script" (sidestepping or changing the topic). Listen and learn.
- Use good listening skills. Make sure that you each understand what the other is saying, especially when discussing a difficult issue.
- Do something to change the tone of an argument or to reduce the intensity, for example, hold up two fingers as a peace sign. Soften what you're saying or make a friendly joke.
BEFORE you fight, build a foundation of positive feelings with one another. Tell each other what you appreciate. Look out for each other. See the best in each other.
AFTER you fight, de-brief the conflict: sit down and talk after an argument. Take responsibility for your role in the problem. Discuss what both of you can do to make it better in the future.
People tend to have different styles of interacting and handling conflict. Some raise concerns and problems far more often than others do — and sometimes they raise concerns in a somewhat harsh or confrontational manner. Others are more likely to avoid conflict and downplay the strong emotions that they feel inside.
All relationships have conflict. It's not a bad thing. People are just different. They often want different things. They disagree about beliefs and values. This just means they are individuals.
In confllict, you might need to put off a conversation until you can listen calmly and carefully. Avoid doing things to make the conflict more intense. Do something to lighten the moment. If you see that the conflict is getting out of control, take a time out.
At a quiet time, when you both feel good, go back over past conflicts to discuss each of your roles and decide what you will do differently next time.