COMMUNICATION and COMPROMISE are the two most important elements of a relationship which help to avoid conflict and lead to a long, happy partnership. The way we deal with conflict within our relationships will impact on how our relationships develop.
A relationship without communication can weaken bonds, create mistrust and make you question the point of being together. According to wellness coach Elizabeth Scott there are eight main causes of conflict which prevent resolution. The first relationship no-no is bottling up your frustrations to avoid an argument. This can lead to an even bigger argument once these frustrations resurface. Being assertive and dealing with issues as they occur can stop this. Another problem is stonewalling i.e. being defensive and refusing to discuss an issue when it arises. This leaves the issue unresolved and makes your partner feel as though you do not listen or care. Sweeping statements can blow conflicts out of proportion and bringing up past issues just creates further negativity and hurt and makes resolution harder.
The fourth problem is seeing your way as being right and theirs as being wrong. You cannot demand that your partner sees things your way and do not take their disagreement as a personal attack, because both views can be valid. Never assume that you ‘know’ what they are thinking by interpreting their actions, this creates hostility and misunderstanding. LISTENING is incredibly important. Transferring blame is a further issue, rather than seeing acceptance of blame as a weakness see it as an opportunity to be objective and recognise each other’s needs in order to resolve the conflict. As Dr Phil states: ‘if people are focused on winning the argument the relationship loses’. The focus should instead be on mutual understanding and a COMPROMISE. The last problem is turning negative actions into personality flaws; this creates negative perceptions on both sides. It is important to RESPECT your partner even if you do not agree with their actions.
According to Clinical Psychologist, Karen Dougherty, there are certain tips you can use to overcome your communication issues. Make sure you are calm; when angry take a break to collect your thoughts. But do not take too long as you do not want your words to fester and be overanalysed to the point where your partner feels their opinions are being dismissed. Reduce your emotional reactions and put your thoughts into constructive, non-threatening statements that get your point across. That way your partner will know how to change. Pick your battles, as constant conflict is unhealthy. Timing is crucial. Avoid appearing selfish in your demands as this will just create negative feelings towards you and your relationship as a whole.
Always remember that there are just two people in your relationship, so do not allow other people to impact the way you deal with conflict as the only person who fully understands the way your relationship works is you.
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