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:/ www.verywellmind.com/family conflict-resolution-solutions-3144540