Every family, no matter how happy and healthy, will have conflict from time to time. This is a very normal occurrence within relationships and especially those which are being developed and formed under the same roof. The difference between those families which become closer over the years and those which become more distant is found in how these conflicts are handled and whether or not they are able to be overcome. The following five tips can help a family to not only overcome conflict, but to develop closer relationships through it.
Tip #1-Communicate through the conflict with honesty and openness, listening to and really hearing one another. Communicating is about far more than just talking and allowing others to do the same. In fact, this is a very small part of communication. The more important aspect of good communication is listening and trying to understand what others are saying. Take the time out as a family to really talk and listen, setting aside everything else for a time, so that you can understand what the conflict is truly about and what the stance of each person is. Don’t try to listen when there are other things going on that are distracting you. This is a major source of misunderstandings and the situation will likely get worse if you opt for this approach to communication, especially when there is a conflict involved.
When a person says something, you may want to repeat it back to them as you’ve heard and understood it. This is called “active communication” and it is a way to avoid misunderstandings and to let the other person know that you are really listening to and hearing what they are saying. People feel more respected when they are being heard and are likely to return this level of respect when it is your turn to speak, as well.
Tip #2-Be slow to judge and fast to put yourself in the shoes of the other family members. Many a family conflict has been rooted in little more than one or more people in the family passing judgment upon the others, often without really giving a thought to why they think, feel, or behave in the manner that they do. Before you rush to judgment during a family conflict, take some time out to really consider where the other person is coming from and how they have arrived at the point they are now at. Even if you don’t understand their point of view, accept it as theirs and allow that fact to make it a valid point of reason in the conflict and its resolution.
Tip #3-Learn the fine art of compromise. If there are family members who are so stubborn that it’s basically their way or the highway, so to speak, there are going to be a lot of conflicts and not a lot of solutions. Anytime that there is more than one person in a household, there are going to be differences, but for families who learn how to meet in the middle, those differences can actually strengthen the family as a whole, rather than weakening each member.
Tip #4-Remember that there doesn’t always have to be someone who’s right and someone who’s wrong, nor does there have to be a winner and a loser. There are many situations when more than one person can be right, or when more than one person can be wrong. Winning at the expense of those you care about, especially when it’s just for the sake of winning itself, is not really winning at all. Conflicts which are resolved only because one person is strong-arming the others can actually be a huge loss. The “winner” may lose the respect, relationship, and regard of the other members of the family, leaving them at a loss of some of the most important people in their lives.
Tip #5-Never allow pride, anger, jealousy or any other negative emotion to overcome the emotion and the action of love. Love is very important; every person needs it in their lives whether they are aware of the need or not. There is no conflict that is worth losing the family relationships that are so vital to people’s lives. Negative emotions, such as those mentioned above, can cause a conflict to turn into a complete breakdown of relationship , but this should never be allowed to happen. If necessary, take time out to cool off before dealing with the conflict, but never let negativity to boil over and burn the bridges of family. This is one of the biggest regrets that people have when they get older.
Families have conflict. There is no getting around it or avoiding it. It is a very natural part of sharing a home and life. Conflicts need not destroy the family or the members of the family though. There are plenty of ways to overcome conflicts which are healthy and will build strength within the family. When the next conflict arises in your family, use the above suggestions to ensure that it is resolved in the healthiest way possible, to enhance the happiness of your family.