Conflict is a normal part of a healthy relationship—even the very closest people can’t agree all the time. Deeper than just a disagreement, a conflict can trigger strong emotions, and when handled poorly it can cause lasting resentment and permanent rifts. However, when conflict is handled in a healthy way, it can strengthen our understanding and trust in one another.
Avoid It, but Never Ignore It
If you catch yourself assuming the worst of another person’s intentions, stop. A misunderstanding is more likely than a conspiracy against you or an intended slight. If there is a misunderstanding, sort it out quickly and calmly, before things escalate to a serious conflict.
You might not be able to avoid conflict entirely, but by catching issues early, you can mitigate it. Once a substantial conflict exists, avoiding it will not lead to resolution. The conflict will fester under the surface, and the longer you delay, the worst it can become.
Listen Until You Understand
During a conversation, especially a heated one, most people formulate their response before the other person even finishes speaking. Avoid this impulse by slowing down, and consider the other person’s statements. Remember, you don’t need to agree with someone in order to listen thoughtfully and understand them—and if you haven’t understood, ask questions for clarification.
Aim for a Win-Win, not a Conquest
Try to focus on finding a solution not winning the argument. If you are focused on a positive outcome only for yourself, you might miss the lasting solution that will work for everyone. Take turns speaking and offering solutions. If either party is unsure about a decision you’ve come to together, have a trial period and re-access what is working, or isn’t, about the agreement.
Ask for Help to Repair and Improve a Relationship
Conflict is inevitable, but if you find yourself constantly battling someone in your personal life or at work and efforts to resolve the issues have stalled, you can seek out the assistance of a professional counselor to develop more strategies.
Unison’s Assistance Hotline exists to help you sort out problems big and small. There are free programs like Enhancing Your Relationship, to help couples achieve greater understanding of and satisfaction in their intimate relationships, and free individual counselling to help address conflict or struggles in your personal or professional life.
Unison’s Assistance Program is always free and completely confidential.