There are many websites and articles that can offer great advice for conflict resolution, and sometimes, you need to keep trying different ones to find a good fit for you. Here are our 5 pillars to good conflict resolution.
The first thing you need to do is to identify why you have conflict. It may sound silly, but sometimes, we may find ourselves in the middle of an argument and not know what the other person is mad about. Identifying the problem does two things: It allows you to understand why your partner is upset and it can help show the emotions your partner is feeling. Remember, anger is always a secondary emotion. We don’t start off angry; it is something that is a result from another emotion.
Once you have identified the issue, you need to make sure that you only focus on that topic. It can be easy to follow a rabbit trail to another topic or use this argument to bring something else up. Creating boundaries helps you both stay focused on the issue at hand. If you need to, create a code word. Anytime you feel like your partner isn’t staying within the boundaries, you have free reign to speak the “boundary word”.
The concept of arguing is funny, isn’t it? Theoretically, you are fighting with someone you care deeply about. And yet, sometimes we feel the need to start conflict. Let’s be honest, it’s normal, but an important part of conflict is the opportunity it provides to strengthen your relationship. To do that, however, you need to realize that you are on the same team. Identifying common goals will help do that. They can seem small and arbitrary, but the overall picture is powerful. For example, let’s say you are arguing about who’s turn it is to do the dishes. A common goal would be: we both want the house to be clean, or we both need dishes to be done to use them, or even, we both use plates. The goal is get back on the same side so you can work together towards a resolution. It doesn’t mean that you both can’t have your own perspectives or ideas, but you do want the same outcome.
Have you ever felt like your argument is going in circles? Like the same thing is being said over and over again? Well, how often does that work in resolving the issue? Once you have identified the problem and created an end goal that you both want to work towards, start talking about specific things you each can do to work towards the resolution. Yes, sometimes we need to “talk it out” to make sure our feelings are heard. And they should be. But once you are ready, start working towards the end. An important thing to remember is that you are a team, which means you both have a responsibility to the situation. You each need things to do to help you get closer to success!
Have you ever walked away from a conflict not knowing if it was resolved or not? Or worse, you each walk away with different outcomes? It may sound trivial, but one of the most important things you can do to end a conflict, is for you each to agree upon what the action items are, what the end result should, and the process in which those things will take place. Write the agreement on a piece of paper if you need to, along with each person’s responsibilities.
Like we had mentioned earlier, there are many resources out there and we are not the only one. We encourage you try different approaches to find one that fits your relationship. We also encourage to have an open conversation with your partner about conflict resolution. It’s not always the most fun thing to talk about, but it can help you build a stronger relationship.