By Georgianna Donadio, PhD – Conflict in relationships is inevitable, but the way we handle and respond to it is not. Some of us try to avoid dealing with conflict, while others want to immediately resolve things head-on. Instead of trying to avoid the conflict, it can be constructive to objectively write down our thoughts and feelings and share them with the other person in a way that expresses how we feel and in a style that makes us comfortable, such as in a letter, a greeting card or email.
Recognizing and Resolving Conflicts
For those of us who tackle conflict head-on, it can be helpful to take a step back and discern whether a particular issue is something that must be resolved immediately or whether we can we give ourselves time to process what has occurred and see the conflict from the other person’s perspective.
Respecting your partner’s or friend’s experience of a particular conflict doesn’t mean you “go along to get along” or that you should not express your own experience or feelings about it. It does mean that you respect and consider the other individual’s unique experience of what has occurred and that he wants to be seen, heard and valued just as much as you do.
By being open to accepting what the other person is feeling and what he has experienced, you send the message that you sincerely care about his feelings and resolving conflicts. Although you may not agree with the other person’s feelings, you bring integrity to the relationship that allows him to be who he is and to express how he feels in a safe and non-hostile environment.
Would You Rather Be Right Or Be Loved?
An important question to ask ourselves when we are dealing with conflict in a significant relationship is would we rather be right or be loved. This is a simple litmus test that can help us to find a balance and a win-win situation for both the parties in a conflict, and it also allows us to reflect on what is important in both our lives and in our relationships.
Communication is a key to successful relationships and to resolving conflicts. For a free chapter download to better understand why others behave as they do (and why we behave as we do) as well as for well-researched information about how to improve your relationship communications, visit www.changingbehavior.org.