We all know and have used the common refrain: “It’s one thing after another.” But what about those times when it’s the same thing, over and over? The arguments we have with those closest to us can have a Groundhog Day feel to them. A few variations exist but, basically, it’s the same thing. If this sounds familiar, you may need to refine your conflict resolution skills.
The role of conflict
The goal is never to eliminate conflict. Disagreements and arguments are a normal and potentially healthy part of any relationship. We can learn so much about ourselves and others. In the case of romantic partners, conflict teaches us that we won’t always be in sync. No one enjoys arguments, but we don’t have to avoid or fear them. When you have the same argument every day, however, it’s a major red flag. The first step to resolving the situation may involve learning some conflict resolution skills—either on your own or with the help of couples counseling.
6 Examples of Conflict Resolution Skills
1. Remove “attack” as your default setting
This works in two ways. First of all, it’s not necessary or even helpful to hear every disagreement as an attack. This view impacts how you feel and how you react. Which brings us to the second meaning. Regardless of the situation, you rarely have to “attack” in order to defend your perspective.
2. Honor your emotions
It’s okay to get mad. You’re angry and that can be a healthy sign. It can help you explore what you feel and why. Suppressing emotions doesn’t resolve conflicts. But it can build resentment and thus postpone conflict. If something upsets you, honor it. Step back and consider it. Ponder the underlying causes. Factor all of this into future discussions.
3. Learn your triggers
The better you know your triggers, the easier it is to avoid them. It’s also easier to discuss them with your partner. Your triggers are yours, but they impact those closest to you. It’s very important to do this work and share the knowledge you gain. Also, stay on the alert. Triggers can shift and evolve. Stay in tune with your personal development and to how your triggers have shifted.
4. Become a better listener
Everyone wants to be heard. We all deserve to be listened to and respected. This is a major part of healthy communication. Some suggestions to be a more active listener:
- Stay present
- Maintain eye contact
- Don’t interrupt
- Control your body language
- Ask questions
5. Practice patience
Arguments don’t have to be resolved within a certain time frame. If your partner is tired or you don’t feel well, you both must step back. It can be frustrating if a conflict lingers. But it’s worse to force it and let your emotions explode. You and your partner didn’t reach this point overnight. Therefore, it will not be resolved quickly.
6. Embrace imperfection
We’re all wrong more often than we’re right. We don’t know it all and we make mistakes. This doesn’t make us bad people or even unlikeable. It makes us human. The people in your life will sometimes upset you. Of course, you will also upset them. Accept this reality and conflict won’t be so jolting.
Mediation can resolve conflict
There’s so much to gain by working on your conflict resolution skills. But quite often, you’ll hit a plateau unless you try couples counseling. We all have patterns that can remain invisible to us. In therapy, one of the goals is to discover and address those patterns. This usually results in massive progress when it comes to not having the same argument again and again.