When I was in elementary school, I loved track and field days.
I was never much of a runner but I always loved participating in the tug-of-war event. I enjoyed the excitement of digging my heels in to the dirt and pulling with all my might to see if my team could pull the other team across the line. This would prove that we were the stronger and superior team, plus the class that won got a pizza party.
Relationships are sometimes like a tug-of-war. The question is, Who is your opponent?
When we inevitably engage in conflict with our partners, it is important that we recognize which side of the metaphorical tug-of-war rope we are on. We need to ask ourselves, Is my partner my opponent or are we on the same side of the rope fighting against the problem?
You may recall in the last post I stated that the problem is the problem. Your partner is not. If we use a team approach, we can come to a solution to the problem. If we are pulling against our partner, someone gets dragged through the dirt and nothing gets resolved.
10 Steps to Effective Conflict Resolution
- Make sure that both parties are emotionally in control. (Remember the 3 attitudes discussed in the previous post: Do You Hear What I Hear?)
- Take ownership. for the personal part you played in the development of the conflict.
- Keep the main thing the main thing. Avoid bringing up old arguments and other baggage.
- Take turns. Each partner needs the opportunity to share their own feelings and thoughts.
- Use “I feel…” statements. “I feel happy when…” “I feel unsupported when…” Validate your partner’s emotions. This is their personal experience.
- Allow time for reflection. “What I hear you saying is ____________. Is that right?”
- Clarify to make sure that what was communicated was clearly understood. Your partner will feel heard and validated.
- Check in with each other about how you two are feeling regarding the conflict. Take care of each other’s emotional needs. Remember you are a team.
- Define mutual team goals. This requires brainstorming together and negotiation.
- Make commitments that can/will be kept and are mutually beneficial for creating greater emotional safety and togetherness in the relationship moving forward.
Remember to Check out the entire Creating Safety in Relationships Series!
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