Disagreements are a healthy part of family life. We’re all individuals with different ideas, personalities and ways of doing things. And while we shouldn’t expect to agree all the time, ongoing conflict and tension can cause stress and damage our relationships.
Family conflicts can be disruptive to everyone’s day-to-day life—even those not directly involved. These arguments are nothing new and have been happening as long as there have been families. With families in lockdown during coronavirus isolation, conflict and tensions can escalate.
These tips can help you keep your sanity but also manage some of the more serious conflicts that can arise during these times.
Conflict is all about emotions, and when a person is off-balance emotionally it becomes extremely difficult to engage in constructive responses to conflict. The point where we stop being logical about resolving conflict is when our emotions become engaged.
If you’re feeling angry, frustrated or afraid, take a Time Out. Don’t go into negotiations with your anger raging. You can lose sight of your objectives and become focused on how the other person has wronged you. Allowing retaliatory responses to kick in and you are no longer interested in solving the problem as much as punishing the other person.
It is a two-way exchange of feelings and thoughts. For individuals to solve their differences well, they should learn the art of communicating effectively. Allowing each person to voice his or her thoughts without interrupting, and chalk out how you would talk about conflicting issues. While working towards resolving the common family issues, watch your words and language, and use a soft, gentle, and friendlier tone that reduces the hostility of what you want to convey.
You may be hearing what others have to say, but are you actually listening to them? People's minds often wander when others are speaking and they don't truly absorb what's been said. Listening is such an undervalued skill, and it can have a real impact on how often conflicts arise and how they can be avoided. Don’t just sit there with your retort ticking away, ready to jump in to force your side of the argument. Listen to the other points of view being shared. You may not agree with everything being said, but this allows you to see things from a new light.
Opposing viewpoints, behaviors and different styles of doing things can cause a lot of arguments and misunderstandings among family members. If clashing personalities are the root cause of a lot of your problems, work on being more aware of the differences in how you view a situation. We each interpret what we've heard or seen, give it meaning and draw conclusions based on our experiences. Recognizing that differences exist makes it easier to begin having discussions that help resolve conflicts.
Take some time to examine your own habits when it comes to dealing with conflict. We all have things we fall back on, usually what we learned in childhood. It may be yelling, giving in to others to avoid feeling uncomfortable or anxious, digging in and refusing to see another point of view, overreacting or personalizing someone else being upset. Strengthen your own positive conflict resolution skills so you can help others develop them as well.
Conflicts can't just be ignored if you want your family to be healthy and happy. Use the above guide to bring your family through this conflict and come out on the other side better than ever before.