Conflict Can Be Healthy
October 23, 2020
Good thoughts from the folks at One Love.
There’s no denying we all see a lot of conflict in the world these days. It’s there when you turn on the news. When you scroll through social media. When you go out and try to stay distanced. It can feel overwhelming and frustrating, so when you think about conflict, you may think “there’s no way having conflict in a relationship is healthy.”
Here’s the reality: No relationship is going to be 100% conflict-free.
All relationships have their arguments, and that’s ok— having a healthy conflict means getting to the root of an issue and addressing it respectfully before it escalates into something bigger. You may even grow and have a strong bond from having thoughtful discussions with one another.
The next time conflict appears in your relationships, here are healthy ways to address it:
Actively Listen: When someone has an entirely different viewpoint, you may find yourself thinking about what you want to say next to defend your beliefs — and there's nothing wrong with that — just make sure you’re also respectfully listening to what they are saying. One way to ensure you're engaging in a healthy way is by reiterating the point you just heard. This allows the other person to confirm or correct themselves if their point didn’t come across in the way they hoped.
Take a Breath: If things are getting heated or you feel yourself getting angry, remember to breathe! Take a minute and collect yourself, go for a walk outside, listen to music, or find a quiet place where you can reset.
Be Present: Respond to that text later. In fact, try putting your phone, tablet, or laptop in another room, and make time and space for meaningful discussion.
Be Curious: Ask questions to get to the root of the other person’s feelings. Be open to new information and learning more. And remember, in a healthy relationship, your partner, friend, or family member will never belittle you, yell, or make you feel bad for your beliefs or values.
While you don’t have to agree on everything, it could be helpful to stop and remind each other that you’re on the same team. From there, you can choose to keep having the discussion over time, find a compromise, or even agree to disagree. It can take some work, but it’s possible to get to a resolution that you’re both satisfied with in the end!
If I could add a couple of thoughts:
Face Each Other. It is heard to hear or be heard if you are not facing the other person (and they are not facing you). Plus, facial expressions and body language can provide powerful signals.
Hold Hands. Do I wish I had learned this one before. Advice for romantic couples . A physical touch can remind both of you that you are in this together and in spite of the conflict, there is Love between the two of you.