COVID19 has changed the way we do business, how we finish out the school year, and how we engage with others. Unfortunately, changes in routines can also create conflict. The anxiety and uncertainties only compound to a sense of “new normal” many of us are figuring out as we find ourselves sharing a space, while practicing social distancing.
The complexities of navigating conflict can become more challenges depending on one’s circumstances. Consider the single adult who was living with roommates but can no longer afford rent and is moving back home. Or the couple who has been intentionally trying to avoid the other and now sharing a space 24/7. Throw in some children who are home from school and sibling rivalry in the mix and it seems like a recipe for disaster, right?
Not, necessarily! Although change will take a period of adjustment, it also presents new opportunities. The four strategies below can help with managing conflict.
1. Identify the Real Problem
Perhaps it is lack of clearly defined space and routine. Or financial constraints…Or expectations that have not been communicated.
By being able to first identify the problem, it is easier to work together towards resolution.
2. Communicate Realistic Expectations
This is a big one for conflict and communication. Being able to clearly communicate expectations while yet having “realistic” expectations is key. Pay attention to your tone of voice and body posture while using communication skills and focusing on the problem at hand (not the person).
3. Manage Emotional Reactivity
Another area is being aware of one’s own emotional reaction–such as annoyance, anger, and frustration. Take time to cool down when you find yourself emotionally triggered and take care of yourself! Stressors combined with poor coping such as being impacted feeling tired, hungry, or intoxicated only makes things worse. Plus defensiveness and criticism can creep into relationships if we are not careful and take more time to repair ruptures. Relaxation strategies such as focusing on your breathing, listening to music, visualizing a calm place, and using cognitive reminders can be empowering tools to manage reactivity.
4. Find Intentional Ways to Connect
Lack of connection is often viewed as more damaging than conflict so it is important to be intentional with find ways to connect with others through displays of affection and emotional responsiveness. Understanding how others like to be shown love, demonstrating this awareness, and being responsive to others’ attempts to connect are all ways to strengthen this area. Practical ideas may include things like using affirming words, offering to help, spending quality time together–creating new rituals and routines, and being fully present.