How to resolve conflict in a relationship?
All of us have faced a difference in opinion with someone in our lives. Have you noticed whenever this has happened there is a sudden change in mood, body language, and overall behaviour. When a conflict occurs it feels like playing a tug of war where you are trying to pull to bring the person on your side and they are trying to convince you to go on the other side. This kind of disagreement often leads to distress in a relationship. It worries us as we cannot seem to be in consensus with someone who is close to us.
Conflict means a disagreement or an argument. Conflicts in a relationship can occur due to various reasons like a difference in one's values, beliefs, priorities, misunderstandings, and even acts of distrust. An example would be, there could be a conflict due to differing opinions on career choices with one’s parents or what is considered to be cheating in a relationship.
Photo by Liza Summer
Image Description: There are two women in the image. One woman is wearing a pink jacket with blue jeans and is walking away from the other woman who looks like she is angry and is shouting after her. This other woman has worn a blue sweater and jeans.
While conflicts can have a negative outcome they can also lead to growth, understanding, and improvement in communication. However, to achieve this it is important to reach a place of repair and resolution.
According to Russell Grieger, there are possible outcomes to a disagreement:
Win-lose situation: Here the outcome is in favour of the first person and the second person loses. This could lead to the second person being hurt, angry, or resentful.
Lose-win situation- Here the outcome of the conflict is in favour of the second person which results in the first individual feeling down.
Lose-lose situation - In this outcome both the people lose. This usually happens in a case where both individuals are unwilling to compromise.
Win-win situation - In this the outcome favours both individuals. Here the result is achieved when both the individuals work towards a resolution.
4 steps to Resolve a conflict.
According to Grieger, there are four ways in which an individual can work towards resolving a conflict.
1: Eliminate relationship disturbances: It is important to address or reduce certain emotions like anger, hurt or resentment. This is necessary as otherwise both individuals will end up not listening to one another. This can happen when we are holding onto our point and feel this is the only way to go about this. When we display emotions of anger or hurt it reduces our ability to be open to what the other person has to say or what common grounds can work for both of you.
2. Commit to a win-win position: Each person must be ready to open their mind to look for ideas that are favourable to both the persons involved.
3. Adopt purposeful listening: Each person is actively listening ( this means listening to understand the person and not just hearing to respond) to the other to understand what a win-win solution look like for the person other. When one understands, then one can work on trying to come up with a win-win situation. Actively listening looks like completely listening to what the person has to say and understanding them v/s listening to them just to respond or make your case.
4. Practice synergistic brainstorming: The couple dyad has to together work on identifying goals, hopes, dreams in order to find a solution that would work for both of them.
One practice that may help is to uncover your own blueprint for Love: Understanding what a relationship looks like for one’s partner will help the individual understand what steps are necessary to be taken to resolve the conflict or clear any misunderstandings. It would be useful to observe or discuss what makes your partner feel loved and understood, to know what is your own understanding of a loving relationship and do you express or show love.