Conflict in a relationship is virtually inevitable. In itself, conflict isn’t a problem; how it’s handled, however, can bring people together or tear them apart. Poor communication skills, disagreements, and misunderstandings can be a source of anger and distance or a springboard to a stronger relationship and a happier future.
You don’t have to view conflict as a red flag. Any two individuals coexisting together will have disagreements. Conflict can actually be an essential component to creating an even stronger bond.
Below are ways with which you can deal with conflicts:
- Talk before you are angry and agree on a strategy:
Managing conflict requires a commitment from both of you. You can talk beforehand about how you would like to manage disagreements, and also agree that you will help each other to do that. You may find it helpful to talk about how you behave when you are angry, and support each other to manage that. For example, if one of you becomes angry very quickly, it may be helpful for the other to propose waiting until later to talk.
- Walk away when you are angry:
You can get into a habit of not discussing issues when you are angry. You can however something like:
“I can’t talk now, I’m just too angry. Please let’s talk about this later when I’ve calmed down.” Then you can walk away, and go off somewhere to calm down.
- Don’t try to discuss difficult things when you are tired and/or hungry:
We are all more likely to be grumpy and difficult when we are tired or hungry. It is human nature. It is therefore advisable to avoid having difficult conversations at difficult times. Instead, you can find a time when you and your partner or friend are both relaxed and comfortable. This way, the conversations are less likely to escalate into an argument. Some people prefer to go out for a walk, and others find time at home is better. You can try different things out and see what works best for you.
- Always be prepared to apologise:
You may feel that you were in the right. You may even have been in the right. However, being prepared to apologise for the way that your partner feels will go a long way. It will let them know that they have been heard, and that you understand their concerns. This is especially true if, despite your best intentions, you ended up shouting at each other.
Apologising doesn’t mean you have to accept that you were wrong. It means that you are sorry that there was a disagreement, and you are sorry that your partner is upset, and that you are committed to finding a way forward that works for you both.
- Listen and discuss:
Be prepared to listen to your partner. Don’t just repeatedly explain your own point of view or you will end up fighting again. Building a compromise or a collaborative solution requires real understanding of what is important to them, and why. You can then discuss and share viewpoints and opinions constructively.
…a long-term relationship is a partnership. You may or may not have made a formal commitment to each other but, if you want the relationship to last, you need to work together to develop the skills to manage differences of opinion.
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