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The key to managing conflict is always, always keep your eye on the prize. In other words, never lose sight of your goal. Too often we want a certain outcome but our behavior ensures we will get the direct opposite. To illustrate, let's look at an example: Pretend you want your partner to spend more time with you. There are several things you could do to increase the chances of this happening. Some of these include:
- Plan a nice dinner and lovingly tell him/her how much you miss having time together.
- Schedule a romantic weekend away as a surprise.
- Focus on ways to show your partner how much you appreciate him/her.
However, instead of working in a logical fashion to achieve the goal, emotions tend to take over. This leads to behaviors that move you away from getting what you want. If you don't keep your goal in mind, you are more likely to:
- Yell, blame, demand or ridicule your partner for not spending time with you.
- Act annoyed but deny that anything is wrong.
- Decrease your own availability to make a point.
- Refuse to ask for more time together because it doesn't “count” if you have to tell him/her what you want.
Although conflict in relationships is inevitable. Resolving conflict becomes much easier if you evaluate what you are trying to achieve. Then, compare your goal to your behavior. Are your actions helping you reach the desired outcome? If not, adjust your plan of action!