Let’s face it; conflict is a part of life that every human being goes through. We can’t all get along; there will be times when we all inevitably disagree. While we can’t avoid the occasional dispute, we can master healthy and effective ways of working through these disputes. Here are six steps to help you get through your next relational conflict.
1. FIND THE SOURCE OF THE CONFLICT
Take a step back from your feelings of frustration for a moment and try to assess where this conflict is emanating from. Perhaps you have made dinner 5 times this week without any help. The source in this situation would be your partner, children, whoever you would like to see contributing in the creation of dinners during the week.
2. TIME AND PLACE
In some ways this is the most important. You need to determine when and where the discussion of the conflict would best take place. In the middle of rush-hour traffic, in bed as you are falling asleep, or on a trip surrounded by family might not be the best times for a focused and alert conversation. The best time for you might be on a weekend, in the middle of the day when you are both awake and aware. If you do not find the correct time and place, your conversation is not going to work. This is especially important in work environments where there is a lot of public space, so be mindful of that.
3. AMICABLE APPROACH
This is really a fancy way of saying – start on a positive note. When you are talking to someone and you want him or her to listen to you, you should always start with a positive comment about him or her. Make sure it is genuine and agreeable. Especially in times of conflict, it can be hard to find something nice to say, but if you want them to pay attention with positive energy, you will want to start out with a compliment. It can be simple, but not vague, you don’t want to sound insincere.
Now you need to specifically identify the behavior that was the problem for you. Don’t generalize, people often tend to lump all of their conflicts into one confrontation, which leads to poor conflict resolution. Try to separate them out into this specific instance. Numbers often help. You can say things like, ‘last week I made dinner 6 nights in a row.’
Next you will want to attach the emotion you felt as a result of that behavior. Use phrases like, ‘I felt angry’, or frustrated, or even underappreciated. Whatever you are feeling, it is important that you say ‘I’. Make this part of your conversation about you, not them.
Ask yourself, ‘What do I need to end this conflict’? Determine what you want to feel or accomplish when you are finished with the conversation. By figuring out what you need before the conversation, you will make the final step of resolution easier to navigate. Perhaps this is as simple as asking the other participant to cook 50% of the dinners during the week.
You’ve read the steps now and you know that resolution conversations don’t have to take long. Your planning might take longer, but the execution may only take a minute. Even if the other person does not respond how you would like initially, they have heard your frustrations and now a negotiation can begin.
Do you have any more questions regarding conflict resolution that you would like to ask? You can follow Cognitive Psychiatry on Facebook for more resources, education and inspiration on the subject, or you can contact us directly.
Live Mentally Healthy,
Cognitive Psychiatry of Chapel Hill