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How to Deal with Conflict: 10 Tips to Calm the Chaos

Conflict in relationships rises from having different opinions and unspoken expectations couples may have. These differences might seem trivial, but they can trigger unsettling feelings that stem from a more deep-seated personal need.

Just because a couple has a conflict does not mean the relationship is in trouble. Conflicts, when handled properly, can even help strengthen relationships. Constructively dealing with disputes can help you gain a better understanding of your partner as well as bring you both closer in the end. If not appropriately addressed, conflicts can escalate and end up creating a permanent wedge in your relationship.

Conflict Basics

So, just how does someone deal with conflict? You first need to understand the basics of conflict:

  • A conflict is more than just a disagreement — A conflict is perceived as a threat, regardless of whether it is a real threat or not.
  • Conflict will continue to fester if ignored — These perceived threats will linger until they are addressed and resolved.
  • Our response to conflict is often based on our perceptions — Our perceptions have been created due to life experiences, beliefs, and culture.
  • Conflicts trigger strong emotions — People who get stressed easily will find it more difficult to resolve disputes.
  • Dealing with conflicts can be an opportunity for growth — When you can resolve conflicts, it builds trust, which is vital for long-lasting relationships.

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10 Tips for Attaining Conflict Resolution

The following conflict management tips will help provide positive ways to deal with adverse situations.

1.  Be Direct. Speak up and let your partner know what is bothering you instead of expressing displeasure in more indirect ways, which often leads to lashing out at a later time.

2. Talk to Your Partner Productively. Convey how you feel about a specific problem and the impact it is having on you by using I-based statements such as:

  • I feel (the strongest feeling)
  • When you (the objective description of the behavior)
  • Because (the specific impact or consequence)
  • I would like (what you want the person to do in the future to prevent this problem from occurring again)

Using I-based statements focuses on how you feel without blaming your partner, and the behavior descriptions focus on a specific behavior that your partner is engaging in rather than a character flaw.

3. Choose Your Words Wisely. Word choice is critical when dealing with conflict. You should avoid using extreme words like “never” and “always.” These words create a generalization about your partner and will cause them to become defensive.

4. Deal With One Issue at a Time. Bringing up multiple issues instead of focusing on one at a time will result in nothing being resolved efficiently.

5. Be an Active Listener. Active listening is a great conflict management tip that lets your partner know that you have heard what they said without interrupting. After your partner has spoken, you will then paraphrase what they said, rephrasing it in your own words. This process helps prevent any misunderstandings before they start.

6. Hold Your Tongue When Hearing Your Partner’s Complaints. When we hear criticism from others, it can be difficult not to get defensive, but getting defensive will only escalate matters. Other things to avoid when dealing with conflict include:

  • Saying “Yes, but…” may suggest that the views of your partner do not matter.
  • Cross-complaining will cause the conflict to escalate and portrays another defensive behavior.

7. Look at Things From Your Partner’s Point of View. Putting yourself in your partner’s shoes can help you see things from a different perspective, which can de-escalate anger.

8. Refrain From Contemptuous Remarks. When you make contemptuous remarks, you belittle your partner.

9. Balance the Positive With the Negative. Negative remarks back and forth will only create more anger and upset. Try incorporating something humorous and light-hearted, which will break up the negative pattern of words.

10.  Know When to Take a Time Out. Sometimes, we need to walk away for a few minutes and take a few deep breaths. If you find you and your partner falling into a negative tunnel that neither of you can get out of, then politely let your partner know that you need to step away for a few minutes to clear your head.

Couple standing far apart looking out at city holding hands

Sometimes dealing with conflict feels too complicated, and you feel you can benefit from professional help. Professional therapy is a productive, safe way to resolve your interpersonal conflicts with friends, partners, or family. If you need a family conflict therapist in Miami, Miami Hypnosis and Therapy offers a vast array of therapies to assist, including:

Contact us today to discover new ways of living with your loved ones in harmony, navigating conflict with tools that will enhance all of your relationships.

Anna Marchenko

Anna Marchenko, LMHC, M.A., Ed.M. is the principal therapist at Miami Hypnosis and Therapy. She holds a bachelor's degree from NYU and dual masters degrees from Columbia University. Marchenko’s hypnosis certification is from the only hypnosis program in Florida that has been certified by the state’s Board of Education. She helps her clients by utilizing an integrative approach to psychotherapy, tailored to each individual’s mental health journey, drawing from hypnotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, NLP therapy, EMDR, and more.

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