They can end marriages, ruin family reunions, and even lead to the loss of an old friend, so conflicts are always bad, right? Wrong! Actually, conflicts are quite necessary for healthy relationships to develop! They just need to be managed effectively. When at least one of the parties involved keeps a cool head and proper conflict management is put into effect, a disagreement can lead to a discovery that makes for a stronger relationship; an argument can lead to an open, honest discussion where an arrangement that all are happy with can be reached!
The basic steps to conflict resolution have probably been drilled into your head by now- you just might prefer avoiding the drama of conflict to actually going through them. That’s understandable to a degree, but if you consistently avoid dealing with even minor disagreements, don’t be surprised when your relationships suffer some serious damage.
There are a number of styles and methods to dealing with conflict, one of the most effective being the “Interest-Based Relational Approach”. It is a lot simpler than it sounds! Essentially, it is a set of rules designed to remind both parties of the value of the relationship, which can inspire them to step a bit back and really think before they speak:
· One of the biggest of these rules sounds a bit obvious: Make sure that having a good relationship is your top priority: not winning! This means that you should do your best to be polite and courteous to the other party, and to keep the conversation constructive. Building mutual respect should be the goal here!
· The next rule for good conflict management is to remember to keep problems and people separate. This can help you see the real issues at hand, and to debate them without damaging your relationship or attacking the other party.
· The third rule is a biggie; Pay attention! There is no other way to understand why the other party disagrees with you and without understanding, you will never reach a compromise that suits you both.
· Fourthly, do your listening first! Talk second, and do not spend your time ‘listening’ merely planning out what you are going to say! This might provide you with some enlightenment on the situation that you otherwise never would have gained.
· Finally, focus on FACTS. Doing this will help you to establish and objective solution to the conflict and prevent any extra fighting over perceived problems and slights.
What are some examples of healthy and unhealthy conflict management methods?
Not taking the time to notice and react to what the other party values is unhealthy! Meanwhile, having a respectful, non-defensive, calm, demeanor during discussions is healthy and helpful. It is not healthy or appropriate to withdraw affection or love from the other party as punishment for disagreeing with you; instead, you should be prepared to move past the conflict after discussing it, without holding any grudges! Avoiding conflict is pretty common, but it is highly unhealthy and leads to damaged relationships later on down the road. An ability to put yourself into the other party’s shoes and seek compromise is, on the other hand, quite healthy.
Try incorporating some of what you’ve learned from this article in your daily life for conflict management that leads to relationship growth instead of destruction!