There are always conflicts, and that's a good thing! When effectively resolved, conflicts between people can lead to improved understanding and increased closeness. Here are some general tips for resolving conflict (and we'll get into specifics in a moment):
- Listen, listen, listen.
- Use “I” statements to express your feelings and perspectives.
- Don't interrupt.
- You can ask questions to clarify, but stay away from “why.” (“How” is a better choice.)
- Keep your arguments in the present, and stay specific.
- Don't dig up old dirt from the past.
- Avoid “globalizing” the argument (by using words such as always, never, or should).
- Taboo subjects are taboo—there are certain nasty comments that are off-limits in all relationships.
- Keep your requests for behavior changes very specific. Don't ask for a personality transplant.
The Four Ways of Resolving Conflict
When you and your child are having a conflict, there are four basic ways the conflict can be resolved:
- You can decide how to resolve the conflict. This is the “because I say so,” unilateral approach to conflict resolution. It may work, but Junior isn't going to feel any kind of satisfaction.
- Junior can be the winner of the big decision-making contest. It's he who decides the outcome of the conflict. Feel good? I doubt it.
- You have the option of resolving the conflict through compromise. If you com-promise, you give a little, Junior gives a little, and you come to an agreement. Neither of you necessarily feels great about it, though.
- Ah, problem-solving! You and Junior can collaborate for a “win-win” (as they say in business school). Yup, it sometimes takes some time to get here, but doesn't it feel good? You bet!