Monday 9 August 2021

Conflict control 101: How to have a healthy arguments in a relationship


Conflict is part of life so rather than being something to avoid and seen as a negative, arguing can be a really healthy way to communicate how you're both feeling - if done effectively. 

From leaving the toilet seat up, to more serious issues such as lying, conflict can easily rear its ugly head. 

However, it does not have to be toxic, painful or miserable for either party involved.

The point of an argument/conflict/discussion is to get to the root of a problem and to solve it. 

If you don't care about it or them, there is no point in fighting to keep holding on - so don't bother.

But if there is something you need to address with a loved one, the first thing to remember is you're arguing because you care and want a solution, nonetheless, this does not excuse bad habits during rows.

There's a way to have a more heated discussion that will see your conflicts ending with solutions instead of more problems.

Here are just a few common bad habits we have in arguments and how to fix them:

This can be hard and it is something that everyone does subconsciously. 

You start disagreeing about something silly like who’s turn it is to wash up and you wind up fighting about how you don’t feel loved.

Unfortunately, this is a bad habit to keep and it causes you to stop talking through the small disagreements for fear of it snowballing.

Because of this, you never get to the root of the problem. 

The resolution is to take it one problem at a time and address others later.

To ensure this happens, be vocal when a conversation is moving in a different direction and direct it back to the current topic. 

If a different issue keeps coming up in multiple arguments then take the time to talk about it separately. 

That way you can resolve the original problem and come back to the other one later.

Another common mistake is using generalised words and similar phrases that exaggerate the situation.

Not only will this lead to a defensive response from the other party but they can also overwhelm the situation and make you feel as though the issue may never be resolved.

To fix this avoid hyperbolic language.

Steer away from phrases like "always" and "never". 

Instead, try to keep your focus on the here and now. 

By explaining how you feel in this moment, you are working to address the current issue, rather than dredging up the past in an unfair way. 

This is especially important when it is an issue that you are thought to have moved past and it keeps being dragged up.

If you do struggle and feel yourself going to make generalisations, try using less extreme words such as "sometimes" or "at times". 

This makes the conversation more of a discussion and sounds less personal.


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Though you may not be entirely aware of it all the time, your body language can convey a lot — especially when you do things like cross your arms, clench your fists or point. 

These are examples of closed-off behaviours that can unintentionally communicate that you’re not open to talking about the situation. 

They can come across as both rude and sometimes aggressive and this can cause there to be more hostility in the situation.

The resolution... be more aware of your body language and make eye contact.

Try to use it to your advantage to better communicate the point you’re trying to make. 

You can make hand gestures (non-rude ones of course) to show that you’re listening and open to the conversation. 

Also by making sure you maintain eye contact shows your partner that you’re giving them your full attention and that you are most importantly listening to them.

It is easy for most to resort to swearing, insulting, or even calling them hurtful names — but this bad habit inevitably does more harm than good, says Dr Appleton. 

"When that happens, it’s a shutdown of communication," she says. 

"You're not fighting about the topic anymore — you're attacking a person's character and you're attacking who they are."

To resolve this, take a breath and notice your emotions.

Instead of resorting to insults and name-calling, take a breath to notice what you're really feeling -  it will give you longer to process what is going on and encourage you to think before you speak.

Sometimes it can seem like you argue about the same thing all the time with absolutely no resolution in sight. 

When this happens, it's easy to focus on all the differences you have, which can cause even more disfunction and cause more arguments to happen.

You fix this by finding common ground.

Realise that it is completely natural to have some different opinions and beliefs, but remember that that doesn’t mean you don't have any common ground at all. 

If it seems like you and the person you are arguing with are coming from two entirely different angles, take a minute to consider what the driving force is behind your beliefs and sometimes it may cause you to reevaluate and be more accepting of their point of view too.



Written by Jessica Murray


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