Tips For Resolving Conflict
By John E. Turner, LMFT and Sally Connolly, LMFT
Here are some of our tips for how to resolve conflict in a healthy way.
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|1. Begin your concern
or complaint in a positive way. This may involve saying things like “I really liked it when
you helped me with the housework yesterday. I would love it if we could
do more of our chores as a team.” or “I felt very hurt when you talked
badly about me to your parents and I need you to only say good or
neutral things about me.”|
2. Be clear, specific, and, if possible, make a request for a
change that you would
3. Try to understand
what is important to your partner in this disagreement.
It is easy to quickly become
defensive. Try to stay calm and ask enough
questions of your partner to understand what is being asked or what
their opinion is about the subject at hand. Ask him/her to express the
main issues. It can be hard to address a problem if you do not know
what the issue really is, and why it is a problem for someone. Find a
way to pursue the concern and understand the other perspective while
trying not to be thinking inside your head about your own side to the
4. Above all, address your
partner in respectful terms and with a respectful tone. Refrain from any verbal or non-verbal
(rolling your eyes, smirking, etc.) actions that will convey disrespect
for the other person. You do not have to agree with your spouse, you
just have to respect that they are a person with a thought or idea that
is different than your own.
5. If you or your
partner starts to get upset, take a break and come back to the concern. When people begin to get upset,
they become emotionally flooded and then generally cannot talk in
productive ways. It is better to take a break at that point … a time
out … and later revisit the concern, if it is important, and try to talk
about it then.
7. Look for lots of opportunities to make deposits into the positive feelings in the relationship so that a disagreement does not spoil the day and there are so many good feelings about each other and your life together, you get through this easily.
Stop action and remind your partner of the good things about the relationship.
| 6. Find ways to repair
and damage that occurs while disagreeing. The health of the relationship is more important
than winning the argument. Gestures like kisses, hand-holding, love
pats, humor, brief distractions, statements like “I love you” and “I
know we disagree, but I do not want this to come between us” can make
the discussion much easier on the relationship. If the relationship is
suffering during the discussion, take a time out. If the issue is an
important one, make sure to find a way to connect later to talk further.|