First of all, what is conflict? Conflict is when two or more individuals disagree or have a  difference in their way of thinking. In any relationship, there will always be some sort of  conflict. What one needs to learn is how to resolve it, and before that, how two or more  people can communicate so that even when they disagree, they can still find a solution  to maintain a healthy relationship. 

What constitutes a conflict? 

Arguments, lack of communication, avoidance,  disagreements and a lack of connection can lead to conflict. Underneath disagreement,  there is always an unfilled need which can also be an emotional need to connect. When  a couple or family members disagree, they always need to check that no hurt and  resentment is lingering with each resolution. As if the conflict becomes unhealthy,  behaviours repeat, resulting in emotional injury and bitterness. 

But how do we resolve or mediate family conflict? 

Initially, keep in mind that effective communication is key to resolving conflict. Always  remember that you are not against the person but the problem! 

Let’s go through 5 ways how to mediate family conflict:- 

1. Soften your start-up 

 Think of ways to regulate yourself before you engage in family conflict. If needed, use breathing techniques to relax your nervous system before you  respond. A few seconds can save you a lot of trouble because once words are spoken,  you can’t take them back. Always remember that it takes two to create conflict and if you  don’t catch the bait to fight then the fight will not happen. 

2. Use “I” statements i.e speak for yourself 

 For example; “I feel ignored when you  walk away from the room in the middle of a conversation” or “I feel irritated when we 

have agreed to go out together and then you don’t show up”. This is more focused on  what you feel rather than blaming others for what bothers you or triggers you. Blaming  doesn’t get you anywhere. Most of the time it ends up leading to hurt and resentment. 

3. Give the benefit of the doubt 

You might not always be right, rather you might be  wrong or not seeing the other person’s perspective. Don’t interpret what is going on.  Even if you think the other members are wrong, be understanding of the other’s  perspectives. Ask yourself “Would I rather be happy or right?” 

4. Listen attentively 

 Do not listen to respond but listen to understand. Most of the  time, people listen to answer rather than to engage in a conversation and try to  understand the other person. When you listen to someone, you listen attentively and try  to understand their feelings. 

5. Always remain curious and ask questions

 Do not assume, ask! To reach an  agreement or to compromise you need to understand what is going on and what was  misunderstood. Ask other members how they are feeling and reflect on how the  argument is affecting the family members 

Through communication that is effective, conflict can be resolved. However, if you and  your family members are finding it very difficult to resolve conflict, you can opt for  professional help; such as going to a family therapist or else a mediator. 

If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach  out here. 

Rachel Osmond is a Family Therapist with Willingness who works with individuals,  couples and families. She also has experience with children and adolescents.

References: 1. Scott. E (2022). Resolve family conflicts and relieve stress. From Very well Mind.  Retrieved on the 27 th July, 2002 from https:/ conflict-resolution-solutions-3144540