Couples, Families and Conflict Resolution : 7 Steps to effectively work through relational conflict

Relational problems associated with family upbringing or one’s primary support group are common stressors that come up in therapy, especially for those seeking strategies and support around conflict-resolution.

Problems within the parent-child relationship, sibling, or intimate partner relationships often involve arguments which may lead to threats of verbal or physical aggression. Additional conflicts can arise from a high level of expressed criticism, hostility, or emotional overinvolvement. These problems can significantly impact not only the development of mental health symptoms but also the prognosis and course of pre-existing mental health concerns.

When it comes to conflict resolutions, here are some ways to help effectively work through relational conflict.

1. Focus on the Problem, not the Person   

This is an import, but often underestimated key point. What is really the problem? Let’s focus on that.

2. Listen to Understand Using Empathic Listening

Hear out the other’s perspective without interrupting and check for understanding. It can be difficult to remain calm and patient, especially when you may not agree with the content of conversation.

3. Learn to Regulate Your Own Emotions

It is difficult to think clearly when one is dysregulated. If you are feeling triggered during a conflict, it helps to take a few deep breaths or find other coping strategies to help calm down.

4. Know When to Take a Break

No conflict is going to end well when emotions are heightened. Diffuse situations that could escalate to verbal or physical altercations by temporarily removing yourself from the situation.

5. Learn Effective Communication Skills

Use of I-Statements and the acronym DEARMAN is a great foundation for interpersonal effectiveness skills. It can offer a model to help one be respectful, yet assertive in communicating needs, emotions, and boundaries.

6. Learn How to Apologize

Take responsibility for your own role in conflicts rather than assigning blame and offer a proper apology. Be sincere.

7. Learn to Accept Differences.

We are going to disagree with others. Disagreement is normal and unavoidable. Be willing to compromise for a win-win or agree to disagree. Consider seeking professional help if you are still struggling.

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