Family conflicts: verbal tips for resolution

Conflicts are a natural occurrence in any relationship, especially with the closest people, within a family. It can be a fight between relatives, an intense argument between a parent and a teenager, or a “cold war” between a spouse and their in-laws. Such conflicts cause a lot of pain because of our inability to put aside strong emotions and control reactions.

Reasons of family conflicts:

The main reason for any conflict is that people have different viewpoints and beliefs, occasionally disagree or misunderstand each other, which is absolutely normal. All families experience challenging times: birth of a new baby, moving to a new country, children leaving home, change in a family situation, all of which may provoke a crisis that manifests itself in conflict. The best way to resolve a conflict is to discuss the issue and find a mutual agreement or a compromise. It sounds easy but hard to implement. More often people want to win the argument and prove that they are right at any cost, so the possibility of a peaceful resolution gradually diminishes, and parties experience stress, pain and an overall sense of negativity.

Family dispute resolution strategies allow us to detach ourselves emotionally and clarify the situation with the use of negotiation, listening and team working techniques. Here are some useful tips for conflict resolution in relationships.

Positive communication is the key strategy for success, so the primary step is to openly discuss the issue. First, separate the problem from the person. It means that you shouldn’t discuss personal qualities or remember old resentments. Instead, you should focus on a specific matter here and now. Shaming somebody and making others feel guilty are not effective. You should cooperate with another person to find an exit strategy out of the difficult situation, so work together without worrying who is to blame. You need to reframe the issue using the “we” approach.

Another way of family dispute resolution is to use I-statements to explain your point of view and criticize constructively. I-statements allow assertiveness without accusing another party and help to avoid escalation of the conflict. In a dispute, say “I feel like … when you” or “I would like to…” to define a cause of the conflict and suggest that you should work this problem out together. I-statements are beneficial because they encourage cooperative problem solving and get participants of the conflict to start working as a team instead of fighting.

Conflict resolution for couples can be difficult if spouses cannot find common ground. In this case, professional advice is important. A third party can listen to both sides, mediate communication and help to look at the current situation from a different perspective. Family is a very dynamic and changing system, therefore even a small shift may initiate big results. And this shift starts with the right words.

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