Solve Relationship Conflicts by finding constructive outcomes
Relationships Require Work
In today's world of instant gratification, dating apps, network shows, and rom-coms, it is easy to forget that relationships need constant work. In reality, it is not about love at first sight and happily ever after's. Neither should it be such that when the going gets tough, throw in the towel and walk away. Investing in one another should be a long term commitment be it romantic, partnerships, friendships, work relationships or family bonds.
Aggression, hostility and divisiveness have become hallmarks of our times. This in turn leads to dissension on a macro-level. Conflict is destructive, toxic and virulent. It creates rifts around us. We need to acknowledge this social norm and take a personal oath to undertake acts of compassion everyday to find resolutions. At a personal level we can repair conflicts by communicating openly without accusation, seeing the other person's viewpoint and being kind and forgiving. These are some of the magic potions that should be added to the solutions mixing pot.
Conflict can present an Opportunity
Conflicts resolved through communication can reset relationships. Take the time to re-examine one another's point of view and gain a fresh perspective. Easier said than done, of course. This can only be accomplished if you add a liberal dose of humor to the situation, dial back the anger and truly align each other's values. I have found that the only way to have a "sane" conversation is to step back and gain a fresh point of view and scale down my initial negative responses. Then there is a chance that the exchanges will be fruitful, positive and noteworthy. It will also afford opportunities to align, understand, appreciate and embrace differences.
Pick Your Battles
Deconstructing the conflict is more productive if everyone involved sticks to one issue at a time. Unhappy couples are likely to drag multiple topics into one discussion, a habit renowned conflict researcher John Gottman calls "kitchen-sinking." This refers to the old expression "everything but the kitchen sink," which implies that every possible issue is been dragged into the conversation. Even though this seems obvious, in the heat of the moment, common sense is sacrificed and the communication goes down the rabbit hole and not much is discussed, achieved or resolved. If anything things are exacerbated.
Listen, Learn & Love
Feeling overwhelmed and downright frustrated in relationships is normal, especially amongst those who deeply care for each other. How you communicate, what tone you adopt and how you listen are the cues that relay how toxic the situation truly is. It can be disappointing and counter productive when you feel like your partner is not really paying attention to you. Similarly if the other person interrupts you or assumes they know what you are thinking - can also easily derail the conversation. Active listening and proactive communication can go a long way towards finding a solution. Paraphrasing each other's conversation be they your partner, your colleague or your friend can dispel any misconceptions.
Taking a different perspective brings a whole new dimension to conflict resolution. It's like getting outside one's head and seeing everything differently. It takes the edge off the conversation and takes it to a neutral ground, where progress can be much quicker. It is the same with displays of contempt during arguments. This can be so hurtful and debilitating. Instead of real conversation the engagement can quickly dissolve into anger and nothing can be achieved. In any stressful entanglement let us remember to pause, reach into a good place within ourselves and then engage with positivity and love. Our world and the world around us will be a better place for it.
Many of these lessons I have learned much later in life, and I am much the wiser for it. I wish I had realized the grey areas of communication that entangle our lives but make our Life richer, warmer and fuller. I know now and am grateful for it and never miss an opportunity to pass on these nuggets to my children and anyone who cares to listen (or read). We need our relationships, our partners, our family and friends, even if we dispense every emotional ounce of energy trying to keep the strands of communication alive and flowing.
We are stronger together