All relationships (family, work, or social) can involve some level of disagreement. Having a conflict with another person is not unhealthy. How we express our views and positions in those conflicts, however, can lead either to conflict resolution or ineffective and sometimes hurtful interactions. Here are 5 quick tips for fighting fairly that help move situations further down the road to resolution.
Identify Why You’re Upset – Before you address the problem, take a moment to think about the reason you feel upset. Are you truly upset with the isolated situation, or is the situation an example of a deeper issue that is upsetting to you? Sorting out your feelings from the beginning can pave the way to more productive resolutions.
Yelling and Degrading Language – Being the loudest person may only “win” the argument in the short term and discourages future communication. Similarly, when in conflict, address the issues, not the person. Name calling and swearing serve to make the other person feel bad and do not address the situation. Yelling and degrading language act as dead ends on the road to resolution.
One at a Time – It may feel like you must address every issue that needs solving when working through conflict but taking a moment to prioritize each issue can be more effective. Addressing one problem at a time can be less overwhelming and lead to longer lasting solutions. Taking on too many issues at once creates potholes on the road to conflict resolution.
No Stonewalling – Stonewalling is not taking a break. Retreating and refusing to communicate shuts down the conversation. Stonewalling may temporarily make you feel better but hurts the relationship overall. Stonewalls are roadblocks on the resolution road. If you recognize you need to take a break, tell the other person with intention to continue the conversation at a time at which you both agree.
“I” statements – It may seem natural to highlight all the ways the other person contributes to the problem but using “I” statements takes responsibility for your feelings and makes it easier for the other person to empathize with you. Remember you cannot say whatever you want following “I” or “I feel”. Use “I” statements to push forward on the road to conflict resolution.
These are only 5 of many rules and tips for healthy communication and fair fighting. Therapy can be helpful in learning and developing social interaction, healthy relationship, and conflict resolution skills. If you or someone you know would like additional therapeutic support or struggling with mental health issues, please contact Interact at 215-487-1330 or email us at Greenridge@intercommunityaction.org for more information about our counseling services.
Author: Ashley Smith, M.S.