“Whenever you’re in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between destroying a relationship and deepening it. That factor is attitude.”
– William JamesHow do you react when you feel as if a special person in your life has disregarded something that is of high importance to you? If you are anything like me, you will feel irritation or even anger. Maybe sadness? Perhaps you withdraw, building a brick wall between you and your loved one. Giving the other person the silent treatment, refusing to speak about your feelings. Or about their feelings? Or perhaps you pretend as if everything is okay to avoid rocking the boat. The peacemaker at all cost. Remember, conflict in relationships is completely normal. When handled in a healthy manner, it can bring about immense growth in our relationships AND in ourselves. But, when handled in an unhealthy manner, it can bring about unhappiness and disappointment. And what about that familiar feeling of unimportance? So, why do we have conflict in relationships? Conflict occurs whenever one person in a relationship (Person A) has the perception that the other person (Person B) isn’t honouring what is of importance to him/her (Person A). For example, I absolutely love it when my husband gives me quality time with him (it is of high importance to me). And guess what? He perceives he gives me a lot of his attention. Whenever he takes time out of what he is doing to listen to me, I feel that he is caring. When he doesn’t give me that time, and I feel that he negates what I am busy trying to accomplish, I get angry. A bit one-sided, but I am a human-being with my own unique expectations and desires. Whenever there is conflict in your relationship and you feel a strong reaction toward the other person, it is wise to pause, look into yourself, and identify what is so important to you that you feel has been challenged by the other person. Or if the other person is upset with YOU, go and look at what they believe is being challenged by YOU. There are THREE ways in which people react to conflict:
- By being the Pleaser: The Pleaser will bend over backwards to have peace in the relationship, believing that he/she is doing it for the other person. However, the Pleaser is the one desiring peace and is thus doing it for him/herself.
- By being the Withdrawer: The Withdrawer typically gives the other person the silent treatment, choosing to ignore him/her.
- By being the Aggressor: The Aggressor will react with anger, using heated words, actions, and facial expressions to instigate an argument.
- Identify how you react to conflict
- Express your feelings
- Initiate the “Apology Conversation”
- A – Admission
- This is where you admit that you have done something careless to the other person.
- I – Impact
- This is where you acknowledge the impact your action has on the other person.
- R – Remorse
- This is where you say sorry for what you have done.
- R – Restitution
- This is where you say what you are willing to do to make things right.