6 Conflict Resolution Tips in Relationships
Undoubtedly, we have all learned how to argue, and we do so very effectively. To that, I have to ask what the results are for our efforts we place into arguing. What I have found is that individuals place so much faith into the concept of heated debates that they forgo any meaningful problem-solving. Any communicative effort should bring a couple closer, not push them away from each other.
I developed a concept called “masks.” In essence, individuals don’t have static perceptions of other individuals, rather they are dynamic, changing over time and they can change minute-by-minute. We place masks on others, depending on their mood, and depending on how we have pre-judged them. If that weren’t enough, we also treat other individuals as if the imposed mask was their real face. Perception is truly reality, but it is a reality that we help to construct.
In any situation, it is best to see the one’s partner as the same individual. When we have consistent perceptions, our actions tend to be consistent as well. Instead of a partner being awful and mean, they are the same person, albeit they are upset. You might ask what the difference is and what is the importance of avoiding imposing masks on others. Well, it keeps individuals from attributing traits to individuals in the heat of the moment. This fundamental attribution error tends to have lasting effects, that is, it can lead on to see their partner in a not-so-positive mask at all times.
Much of the conflict in an argument or debate occurs because partners simply don’t listen to one another. It is quite unfortunate that this takes place because it can be solved by giving each other the floor to speak and be heard. When we don’t listen, the only thing we can do to participate in an argument is to make assumptions. Assumptions are notoriously flawed or outright incorrect. When we assume, we only have access to the information stored in our minds, not from the individual that we are speaking with.
To some individuals, listening is something that must be forced. They may find their partner speaking utter nonsense, especially if their partner is very upset. They still need to be heard. Whether it must be forced or not, a very useful technique in an argument or debate is to simply mirror, or paraphrase what was said back to them. Not only do we ensure that each partner is heard, but we ensure that the other partner takes full responsibility for what they have said. This technique is responsible for ending many arguments in a hurry.
Never Say Never
When individuals argue, it is very common for words like “never” and “always” to rear their ugly faces. Again, it goes back to the fundamental attribution error, in which individuals attribute one instance into eternity. It is impossible to argue with this type of language, as it truly is an attempt to use absolute terms to beat the debate opponent. What it does is eliminate intimacy between partners. To avoid using these terms, I advise individuals to speak simply the truth. Instead of it being a chore that is “always” incorrectly, it becomes one that was performed incorrectly at one point in time.
When individuals argue, it is too common for past mistakes to be dredged into the present. Individuals do this to even the scores, that is, to ensure that they don’t lose the argument. When an argument is entered into, one partner is put on defense. With an elevation in emotions, they feel the need to ensure that their opposition receives just as much criticism and blame. Most of the time these past mistakes have already been discussed and apologized for. Although sometimes they have not been properly addressed. But bringing them up when emotions are flaring does nothing to address the issues. It is just best to deal with the moment at hand first, and when partners are sufficiently calm, they can address other issues. That requires issues that need to be addressed, that is.
If emotions are elevating too much, you can guarantee that nothing will be resolved in a meaningful sense. Additionally, with heightened emotions, it is more likely that character attacks will ensue. I recommend that individuals call a time out if the communicative effort is not going well. Here’s the rub, they have to work towards calming down and re-approach each other to finish resolving the underlying relationship issues. A time out is just that, a brief moment to rest.
What greatly helps in any communicative effort is for partners to see simply each other as the best person or their favorite person. After all, we are talking with the person we have chosen to spend our lives with. Does it make any sense to treat this person like they were less than human? Does it make sense to give this person great emotional punishment? When we see the best in each other, we are capable of actually working towards finding solutions as a team, rather than opponents on a battlefield. Instead of swinging swords at one another, I advise partner swing swords at the obstacles that stand in their relational bliss.
I advise couples to give up on the idea that they have to argue; they don’t have to and there is no benefit that may come. Rather, individuals can have calm and collected communicative efforts, where underlying relationship concerns are actually addressed. To do that, we have to think about the long-term relationship and treat each other with loving eyes.