There is a potential for conflict whenever people interact. Most conflict is not between a right and a wrong position, but two differing points of view! Conflict in and of itself is not bad in relationships; we are all created unique and different. But how we choose to conflict is the determining factor of the current and future health of a relationship. Does the other person have a right to view things differently?
Conflict can best be understood as an emotionally charged effort to force relationship changes on another person. All relationships have differences and disagreements and conflict happens when two people want different things. Promoting relationship change is best accomplished by good communication and negotiating skills which actually facilitate relationship growth. It is as if the working through the issues and events we experience actually strengthen the relationship.
A very important component of conflict resolution is the development of an attitude that is open to understanding. It is accepting the other person and how he or she responds to conflict and a willingness to express oneself in a loving, caring manner. This attitude frequently minimizes issues and difficulties in resolving problems through:
- Compromise– meeting halfway, understanding;
- Accommodating– open discussion, communication without confrontation; and
- Partnership– solutions, forgiveness, honesty.
What does destructive conflict look like?
When person becomes personally hurt or rejected in the process, conflict can become a problem. How do people become personally hurt or rejected?
- Criticism- Attacking the personality or character rather than a specific behavior. Complaining and blaming the other.
- Contempt- The intent to insult or psychologically abuse the other such as name calling and insulting, hostile humor, sarcasm and body language such as an eye roll.
- Defensiveness- Not taking responsibility to make things right in the relationship.
- Stonewalling/Avoidance- Shutting out the other person by not giving any response, acknowledgement of them or listening. Physically or emotionally removing yourself.
- Confrontation- Someone has to win or lose; a focus on guilt or shame and sabotaging or manipulation; using past emotional issues to hurt the other.
3 Perspectives for resolving problems
- I’m Superior-I am okay and have rights, but you do not. This person believes the other must do things as they want them to only.
- I‘m Inferior– You are okay and have rights, but I don’t. This person demonstrates a disregard for their own needs and rights,
- We are equal– We both are okay and have rights. These people are equal and are open to respecting the other’s rights and also meet their needs and desires. They both accept the responsibility for working things out and for the relationship.
In troubled relationships, discussions of conflict can trigger intense emotions that sometimes lead to “flooding.” This means you feel so stressed that you become emotionally and physically overwhelmed. You are not able to think clearly, or to participate in the conversation in a way that resolves the problem. You would rather be anywhere else than here with this person. Obviously, this reaction gets in the way of creating meaningful communication or resolving problems and reconciling a relationship.
Signs of flooding include a pounding heart, sweaty hands, and shallow breathing. When you’re in this state of mind, you are likely not capable of hearing new information or even accepting an apology if it is offered. The best thing to do if you “flood” is to take a break from the conversation and do something that you find soothing for at least twenty minutes which is generally how long it takes the body to recover from emotional stress. Suggestions are to read a magazine, watch television, go for a run or exercise, meditate or do relaxation or breathing exercises.
Conflict Resolution Therapy
In working with both individuals and couples, we help you learn how to:
- Understand other’s opinions and ideas,
- Solve disagreements and problems without hurting others
- Resolve long standing issues
- Share feelings and ideas
- Take appropriate responsibility for problems
- Deal with real issues, not just events
- Express honest feelings
- Communicate assertively
- Come up with creative solutions
- Remain calm
- Be non defensive
- Respect and validate others
The conflict between good and evil is drama, but the conflict between good and good is tragedy. â€“Author unknown
To observe people in conflict is necessary part of a Childs education. It helps him to understand and accept his own occasional hostilities and to realize that differing opinions need not imply an absence of love. â€“Milton R. Sapirstein
God’s best to you!