What is conflict? Conflict arises when two or more people are in disagreement with each other, and each believe the other is wrong or at fault. Another interpretation is the point at which hostility and anger may result in physical harm to others. Conflict is evident in many of the relationships that we may experience in our everyday lives. It may be between co-workers, employer and employee, spouses or even in other family relationships. In the course of living we may have various relationships and because of our differing personalities these may result in conflict arising.
I vividly remember a situation between myself and a good friend which denigrated into an argument; and as we each refused to give in conflict set in and eventually the friendship ended. As a more mature person I now recognize that it’s okay to hold opposing views. To some extent agreeing to disagree and moving on from the conflict. Sometimes an intermediary may be useful in helping the opposing people come to some resolution. This is especially true with married people who may seek intervention through a marriage counselor.
Conflict resolution involves using good and effective communication skills. An essential part of communications is listening as well as speaking. We all know that as we communicate our emotions come into play; so we need to be prepared to calmly put our point of view across. Sometimes it’s necessary to put our point of view across several times, that is to re-phrase what we are saying. For instance in a scenario where a husband and wife are experiencing conflict it is perhaps important to set aside time to speak to each other when there is little chance of being interrupted. It could be that the wife in the situation feels she is not receiving adequate support in the home, whereas the husband feels that all his wife does is nag.
The conversation between the couple may start with the wife saying something like ‘I know I’ve said this many times before, but I really feel that you could do more in the home’. ‘Let me just say that again so that you don’t feel I’m being unnecessarily difficult. Is it possible that we can share the housework? We are both working, but it seems that most things are left for me to do, including the shopping. The response is probably negative from her spouse who may retreat into a defensive mode if he feels he is being attacked and or unappreciated.
So how then do we communicate with each other and elicit the desired response. I would argue that in all situations we need to stop putting ‘me’ first. It’s important not just to get your own way but to recognize that in resolving the conflict it has to be done in a way that is in the best interest of all concerned.
In the scenario previously mentioned if someone, in this case the wife, feels that she is unnecessarily burdened she may at some point become resentful, and seek other ways of balancing the scales. This may lead to other difficulties in the marriage. I believe that sharing your point of view in a constructive manner may encourage a supportive response. It may be that you appeal to your partner’s ego. For instance, I really appreciate it when you put the rubbish out or I really wish you unpack the dishwasher more often.
There are many ways of communicating effectively to elicit a desired response and I have merely illustrated a few. I don’t always get it right, however I definitely believe that its best to communicate feelings rather than acting them out. If you are hurt, or feel aggrieved share the feelings, the hurts or the difficulty with the person with whom you are having a relationship. If they wish to have a harmonious relationship they will respond positively and nor merely deflect the communication.