Conflict is not in and of itself a bad thing. In fact, conflicts in relationships can be constructive when used as a vehicle for improving communication with your partner. It is important to resolve conflicts immediately because repressed emotions have a way of building up and exploding at the worst possible time. Form a policy of always discussing with your partner on issues that anger either of you. Too often we discuss our grievances with everyone except the person we are upset with and when we eventually resolve the conflict we have regretfully left a messy path by damaging the image of the one we love. What’s worse is spoken words cannot be taken back.

The following steps can help you use conflict as a tool for gaining clarity, creating deeper understanding and strengthening your relationship.

Step 1: Listen to what is being said. Many times, conflict arises from a simple lack of understanding or miscommunication. Avoid making assumptions about what you hear. Instead, ask for clarification.

Step 2: Discuss the feelings that come up. Avoid the temptation of raining insults instead, tell your partner how that particular incident made you feel. Sometimes conflict escalates because something about the situation is an emotional trigger for us. If you’re feeling upset by the conversation, try to determine where the feeling is coming from. Take several deep breaths and try to remember that what is happening now is completely separate from the past. You can manage conflict more effectively if you deal only with the matter at hand and not on every other thing he has done wrong.

Step 3: Repeat the other person’s point of view. You don’t have to agree to understanding the other’s point of view. Simply acknowledging and validating someone’s feelings can be a powerful tool for resolving conflict positively. At the end of the day, most people just want to be heard.

Step 4:  Agree on a fair course of action. Now that you have a clear idea of what the problem is and where your partner is coming from, it is time to explore some solutions. Throw out some ideas that you can vet together. Choose the soundest option that you can agree on. Plan to revisit your decision within a specified period of time to see how you are doing and what changes, if any, need to be made.

Change your approach to conflict, use it positively as a tool for gaining clarity, creating deeper understanding and strengthening your relationship.


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