Posts tagged Conflict

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Tips for Successful Arguing

1. Pay attention to time and place. It’s better to deal with things privately, and when neither person is stressed, or pushed for time.

2. Be respectful – and give thought to the words that you are using. Don’t attack, blame or shame or use profane, abusive language. (Often “it’s not what you say; it’s the way that you say it.”)

3. Don’t just pile on the negatives, or list all your grievances, hurts and complaints. Make sure you mention things you are grateful for, and things that are good, and are not going wrong.  

4. Try to keep to the topic or your point will lose its focus. It’s easier to deal with one thing at a time.

5.  Related to this, try to be specific – and not vague and general. Also, name the emotions you are feeling at the time. I

6. Keep control of your emotions, and try to stay calm. Very little will be gained if you start to lose your cool.

7. It’s not about winning and being seen as being right. The goal should be “improving your relationship”

8. Finally, remember that anger often masks and covers hurt – and is actually a sign that the person’s seeking love. So work on building empathy and deepening your love.

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Conflict Strategies

Different people use different strategies for managing conflicts. These strategies are learned, usually in childhood, and they seem to function automatically. Usually we are not aware of how we act in conflict situations. We just do whatever seems to come naturally. The 5 styles of managing conflict are:

1. The Turtle (Withdrawing) – Turtles withdraw into their shells to avoid conflict. They give up their personal goals and their relationships. They stay away from topics that may bring conflict and they avoid people with whom they are in conflict. Turtles believe it is hopeless to try to resolve conflicts. They feel helpless. Turtles believe it is easier to withdraw from a conflict than to face it.

2. The Shark (Forcing) – Sharks try to overpower opponents by forcing them to accept their solution to the conflict. Sharks make their goals of the highest importance; relationships are less important. They seek to achieve their goal at all costs. They are not concerned with the needs of other people. They do not care if other people like them or accept them. Sharks assume that conflicts are settled by one person winning and the other person losing. They want to be the winners in the conflict. Winning gives them a sense of pride and achievement. Losing gives them a sense of weakness, inadequacy and failure. They try to win by attacking, overwhelming and intimidating other people.

3. The Teddy Bear (Smoothing) – To teddy bears, the relationship is of greatest importance, while their goals are of little importance. Teddy bears want to be accepted and liked by other people. They think that conflict should be avoided in favour of harmony. They believe that conflict cannot be discussed without damaging the relationship. They are afraid that if the conflict continues, someone will get hurt and that would ruin the relationship. Teddy bears say, “I’ll give up my goals and let you have what you want in order for you to like me”. Teddy bears smooth over the conflict.

4. The Fox (Compromising) – Foxes are moderately concerned with their own goals and about their relationships with other people. Foxes seek compromise. They give up part of their goals and persuade the other person in a conflict to give up part of his goals. Foxes seek a solution to conflict that allows both sides to gain something. They seek the middle ground between two positions. Foxes are willing to give up a bit of their goals and relationships for the common good

5. The Owl (Confronting) – Owls highly value their own goals and their relationships. They view conflict as problems to be solved and seek a solution that achieves both their goals and the goals of the other person in the conflict. Owls see conflicts as improving relationships by reducing tension between two people. They try to begin a discussion by identifying conflict as a problem to be solved. By seeking solutions that satisfy both themselves and the other person, they maintain the relationship. Owls are not satisfied until they find a solution that satisfies both parties and that resolves the tension and negative feelings between the parties.



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Couple Conflict Resolution Skills

Below are some suggestions for helping couples to effectively resolve disagreements and conflicts:

1. Ensure the relationship remains your top priority. Don’t prioritise your desire “to be right”, or to be the person who has the last word.

2. It is draining and disheartening to argue all the time. Thus, instead of arguing over every little thing, be highly selective and “choose your battles”.

3. Accept that disagreements are a part of life – but limit how much time you invest in them. Set aside a day and time to discuss emotive issues - and then agree to “get on with the rest of life”. 

4. When addressing a conflict, ensure each individual has the chance to speak without interruption. Their partner listens carefully and then reflects back what they heard the other saying - without commenting on this, or adding their opinion or own point of view. The roles are then reversed and the other gets to speak.

5. The dividing issue must be clearly defined in concrete, specific and reasonable language. For example, avoid general phrases that are likely to enrage, like “You always …” or “you never …”

6. Only address one issue at a time, and don’t refer back to previous arguments, buried resentments or old grievances.

7.  Do not attack your partner, or “tag all the blame” on one individual, and them alone. Instead, each should be open to accept they have a role in both the problem and, also, the solution.

8. Feelings should be expressed verbally; they should not be acted out.

9. Whenever possible, aim to arrive at a win-win solution so both feel they’ve benefited in some way from being willing to negotiate their differences.

10. Accept that there are times when it is simply best to agree to disagree – and then move on with the rest of life.

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Saying “no” to others

It can be hard to say “no” and to do your own thing. We expect disapproval or rejection by our friends. So how do you say “no” in a respectful way when you can’t, or you don’t want to, say “yes” to them?

1.    Listen with respect to what the person has to say. Don’t interrupt when they’re talking, act flustered or annoyed. It’s fine for them to ask – at this stage, it’s just a question.

2.    Simply say “no” in a calm and an even voice. Don’t sound like you’re upset, or start to whine or raise your voice. Just say “no” in a calm and a confident way. Also, you’ll respect yourself more if you speak up for yourself.

3.    Transfer the reason and the blame to something else. For example, say something like “I’m really sorry but my calendar is full”. This focuses annoyance on your calendar – not you. (But don’t be tempted to lie or to come up with excuses as you may be found out later – and you’ll really feel bad then!)

4.    Don’t react or be confrontational. They can ask what they want, and have the right to make requests – and you have the right to accept or decline. Say: “I’d love to say yes, but ..(and then turn them down)” as this helps build a bridge, and conveys empathy.

5.    Don’t feel you have to give an explanation when you answer. You don’t have to give a reason or explain yourself to others. Say: “I’m sorry, I can’t make it” - then politely change the subject.

6.    If you want to give a reason then keep it short and simple. Don’t justify yourself or start to argue your case. True friends accept your answer and respect your boundaries.

7.    Stand firm in your decision. If the person starts to pressure you, just tell them you’ve decided, and nothing they can say is going to make you change your mind.

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