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Managing Conflict In Relationships Tips

Read these 8 Managing Conflict In Relationships Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Relationship tips and hundreds of other topics.

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Dealing With Conflict

People have varying degrees of comfort with conflict. Some prefer avoiding it at all costs. Unfortunately, those costs tend to increase the longer issues are left unaddressed. Therefore, learning how to manage and resolve conflict is to your benefit. When dealing with conflict:

  • Treat it as normal and expected. Conflict need not be catastrophic or personal. Conflict is simply part of being human.
  • Deal with issues as they arise. Avoiding conflict makes situations worse. Time does not resolve matters. Instead, it decreases the chance of a positive outcome.
  • Attempt to understand the other person's point of view. Dismissing the other's views, assigning blame, and exclusive focus on your own perspective are all counterproductive.
  • Don't judge emotions. No one's feelings are more or less “right” than the other's. Emotions reflect a valid perspective of an individual. Even if you don't understand it, acknowledge the other person's reaction as important.
  • Focus on the behavior, situation or problem area without attacking the person involved.
  • Do not assume your values or beliefs are “right.” They reflect a view of the world from your unique perspective. Respecting another's viewpoint as equally valuable opens an opportunity for learning and growth.
Dealing with conflict does not need to be dreaded or feared. Interpersonal conflict is a natural component of human interaction. In fact, if the problem is the object of focus versus the people involved, disagreements can generate new ideas and growth. Dealing with issues as they occur, acknowledging the other party's feelings and perspective, and avoiding judgment or blame further increase the chance of productive conflict resolution.


Dealing With Conflict

Conflict in relationships is exacerbated when we think we must defend ourselves. Given that most people do not intentionally harm those they love, this is illogical. In fact, the majority of things leading to hurt feelings were never meant to have that outcome. No matter how upset you are, make a leap of faith that your partner loves you and wants you to be happy. When you attribute the problem to miscommunication vs. he/she doesn't care or is trying to hurt you, it diffuses the emotional charge. Once your emotions have stopped telling you to attack or run, you have the benefit of logical thought. As you can imagine, this offers a tad more clarity to your perspective. In turn, resolution of the conflict becomes easier.


Handling Conflict

Interpersonal conflict, whether family conflict or conflict in the workplace, is often dealt with in nonproductive ways. Two traditional approaches are avoiding conflict and managing conflict. A third option is conflict resolution.

As you can imagine, and probably have experienced, avoiding conflict is problematic. There is no opportunity for resolution and a back log of negative experiences starts to accumulate. These unidentified or unresolved conflicts simmer under the surface causing a general feeling of irritability between the involved parties. Perceptions, feelings and interactions between the parties become colored. Eruptions over minor matters, at seemingly random times, may also occur.

Managing conflict can have a better outcome than avoidance. However, to minimize harm, it must be done in a purposeful way. This is an ongoing process in which goals are set, frequent and honest communication occurs and differences are discussed openly. When actual resolution of the conflict is unlikely, it is best to establish such a plan.

Conflict resolution works to resolve problems in a mutually favorable manner. This approach goes beyond acknowledging and coping with conflict. At its best, it embraces conflict as an invaluable means for achieving ongoing learning and growth .

Viewing conflict as an opportunity for growth can go against instinctive responses. When conflict arises, we often feel attacked. Our fight or flight response may be triggered. We think we must choose between passivity or defense. However, if you don't personalize the problem (i.e. make it about you) then this level of reaction becomes unneeded. Instead, you can logically look at the situation, open to the other person's input, and decide together what can be done to help make things better.


Conflict Resolution

When someone does something we do not like, we tend to focus on what they did wrong. We judge. We criticize. We point out what we deem to be their faults. The person, in turn, feels hurt or angry. The conflict escalates and distance occurs. If conflict resolution is your goal, this is not the way to go about it.

Conflict in relationships does not have to follow the above scenario. A common mistake is made by thinking blame needs to be assigned to someone. You do not have to prove who did what wrong. This is a lose – lose way to approach interpersonal conflict.

Instead, the way to deal with conflict in relationships is to express your reaction without blaming it on the other person. Focus on what you thought, how you felt, what happened from your perspective. You are not to make assumptions about why the person did what they did. You are not to hand over responsibility for your emotions, reactions, fears, behaviors, etc. Simply provide an explanation of your experience.

The other person then has the opportunity to respond to your concerns - instead of having to defend him/herself from your accusations.

The quickest way to deal with conflict is to avoid blame or judgment. Simply explain your experience to your partner. Your goal is to share your emotions and worries, not to decide who is bad. Challenge yourself to not view your partner's behavior as “wrong.” While it may be displeasing to you, this does not make one person right and the other one wrong. Furthermore, he/she is not responsible for your reaction. Your feelings are important and should be communicated in this way so your partner can hear you.

He/she may not give you a great response at first. A defensive reaction is normal, not a sign the person does not care. Do not give up or fall into old patterns of arguing. Instead, repeat this process until he/she hears you.

Relationship Conflicts, managing conflicts, interpersonal conflicts

Relationship Conflicts

Relationship conflicts are fueled by allowing emotions to dictate behavior. We seem to forget that emotions are just emotions. They are not right or wrong, good or bad. However, when we operate from a place of allowing our emotions to propel, reactions problems result.

Managing conflict becomes much easier when we introduce logic to the process. This does not mean it is good to ignore your feelings. Allow yourself to have whatever emotions you have. Acknowledge them as how you feel. Use them as one form of information. Then, decide how you want to respond to the interpersonal conflict you are faced with.

Reactions are derived from emotions alone. Responses have the advantage of consulting with your brain before taking action.


Resolving Conflicts

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!


Solve Conflicts in Relationships

Solve Conflicts by taking the LEAD

Conflict is not in and of itself a bad thing. In fact, conflicts in relationships can be constructive when used as a vehicle for improving communication. The following four steps can help you use conflict as a tool for gaining clarity, creating deeper understanding and strengthening relationships.

When you are in the midst of conflict, take the LEAD to manage it respectfully and calmly.

Listen to what is being said. Many times, conflict arises from a simple lack of understanding or miscommunication. Avoid making assumptions about what you hear. Instead, ask for clarification. For example, “I heard you say X, is that what you meant?”

Explorethe feelings that come up – Sometimes conflict escalates because something about the situation is an emotional trigger for us. If you’re feeling upset by the conversation, try to determine where the feeling is coming from. Take several deep breaths and try to remember that what is happening now is completely separate from the past. You can manage conflict more effectively if you deal only with the matter at hand. When you start introducing memories and past sleights it will be tough to get past the history of bad feelings to work toward a positive outcome.

Affirm theother person’s point of view. You don’t have to agree to understand the other point of view. Simply acknowledging and validating someone’s feelings can be a powerful tool for resolving conflict positively. At the end of the day, most people just want to be heard.

Decide on a fair course of action. Now that you have a clear idea of what the problem is and where the person is coming from, it is time to explore some solutions. Throw out some ideas that you can vet together. Choose the soundest option that you can agree on. Plan to revisit your decision within a specified period of time to see how you are doing and what changes, if any, need to be made.

How do I cope with a wandering eye?

The Wandering Eye

Does your partner have a wandering eye, and ogle other people while with you?

First, it is natural for humans to appreciate beauty in all forms. Just as you might look at a gorgeous sunset, or a beautiful beach, you can appreciate the beauty of a well-formed man or woman.

The question is whether your partner appreciates your unique qualities more than that person, and if he/she shows this appreciation. If your mate is always staring at other people, but rarely compliments you on your own qualities, it is time to remedy this. Sit down and talk about why this happens.

If your partner neglects you in favor of spending time with others, it is time to talk with him/her. A partner should respect the mate over others, and if the choice is a lonely mate or a "fun" friend, the mate should come first.

If you are feeling neglected or overlooked, sit down and talk about this with your partner. Look through the jealousy tips - you need to be realistic about how needy you are, but you also need your partner to respect you.

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Guru Spotlight
Barbara Gibson