Learning to deal with conflict

CONFLICT is inevitable. We will all face it, probably on a daily basis. The difference between a peaceful and stressful life is our ability to deal with it. When conflict is unresolved, blood pressures raise, fights occur, and relationships deteriorate. On the contrary, when conflict is resolved amicably, relationships are actually strengthened as people work through their differences.

This is actually an area I wish companies would call me to work with them on because I believe time and resources are wasted on a daily basis in the workplace because people have not learned good conflict resolution skills. I am consistently shocked to find people would rather sabotage an individual they are mad at rather than work for the good of the company because of unresolved issues. The workplace is not the only place that suffers from bad conflict resolution issues.

Marriages also suffer when two people haven’t learned these skills. I sincerely hope you can watch our TV episode on conflict resolution on our website www.ashleythaba.com/tv. We will teach you very practical skills on exactly how to resolve conflict. We will even give you examples of specific fights we have had and things we did wrong and things we did right, so that it is real and practical dealing with issues any one of us could face on any given day.

In the recording of this show, a question was asked to us: What are a couple of specific techniques one could use to better solve conflicts? Below is our answer exactly as it appears in our marriage workbook, which can be bought on our website, www.ashleythaba.com.

Here are a couple of practical methods to solve conflict more effectively.

1) Sandwich method — say a positive thing, the negative thing (area for constructive criticism), then another positive thing.

Example 1: I am so grateful you put the energy into preparing dinner tonight. Do you mind if I am honest though that I actually don’t really enjoy eating this particular dish? Again, I am so thankful that you are always serving me, and I usually enjoy all your tasty meals.

Example 2: You are such a great father; we are blessed to have you in our home. I have noticed though that you aren’t spending enough quality time with our son. When you yelled at him yesterday, I think you really hurt him badly. Could you please go and talk to him? I know he will appreciate that because you have always shown yourself to be a father who is attentive and loving so I believe he will forgive this mistake.
The benefit of this method is that the person hears that they are good and not all bad. Most of the time, we are quick to criticise, but not so quick to compliment. The result is that people either tune off because they hate to be told how bad they are, or they feel so defeated that they lose the desire to even try because it seems like all you ever see is the negative anyway. Plus, even for you, the one bringing up the issue, it is a good mental exercise to force yourself to see two positives to every negative so that you also don’t unintentionally dwell on the negative and see your spouse in a bad light.
2) Focus on one current problem at a time
It is so important to bring up each issue as soon as possible because if not, what happens, is you are remembering everyone and when you finally start talking about your issues, weeks of piled up hurts spill over and make it almost impossible to solve all the issues raised.
There is wisdom in bringing one issue at a time. Solve it and move on.
Also, be very careful not to keep bringing up past issues. Solve it fully and move on. Forgive and learn from mistakes and move on. It is demoralizing to keep bringing up an issue you thought was dealt with over and over.
3) Use “I feel” rather than “you”. We dealt with this in depth in the episode on Communication, so please go back and read that for further clarification.
4) Deal with issues immediately, even if it is uncomfortable.
5) Always try and hear why another person is hurting. Sometimes it has nothing to do with you!
6) When you bring up the conflict, start by admitting your faults in it. That will soften the other person to admit their faults also.

7) Never name call! Deal with the emotions felt because of the conflict, but don’t insult their character.
8) When you apologise, be specific with what you did wrong.

9) Ask for forgiveness when all is dealt with and ensure the issue is completely dealt with before you put it away and now only refer back to it when you are laughing about it later.

For more practical tips which are guaranteed to enhance your relationship with your partner, our marriage book is available in electronic copy on our website, www.ashleythaba.com. We have written it because we believe strong relationships make for strong people.

When you are in love and feel secure and happy in your relationship, we believe you will be a happier more productive member of society in general. We hope you can download the book and begin to grow today.

Ashley Thaba is a life-coach, team-building facilitator and motivational speaker. She is also the author of Conquering the Giants and Dive In.

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