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3 Steps to Improve Conflicted Relationships

03.21.2013 | 11:15 am

Are you getting so used to conflict that it seems natural and normal? Maybe this is an opportunity to take a look at symptoms of a conflicted relationship so you can do something before it becomes a failed relationship. Are you:

  • Feeling misunderstood and unappreciated?
  • Interrupting one another?
  • Reaching agreement on anything?
  • Experiencing difficulty making decisions and solving problems together?
  • Thinking something is wrong with you or the other person?

Any of these signs can escalate. This may be a great opportunity to take stock of your “relationship inventory.” How important is this relationship? What are the benefits? What brought you together? What’s dividing you? Who else is your relationship affecting? Is it possible that some of your difficulties may be in the way you communicate with one another and not necessarily with the subject matter in which you may have different points of view?

The 3 steps to improve a conflicted relationship are:

  1. Recognize there is conflict and both parties have a role. There is no right or wrong!
  2. Identify the benefits of harmony, and clarify whether both parties want to resolve the conflict.
  3. Exchange your thoughts and feeling on each other’s communication wavelengths.

Step 1 may be the most difficult, as you blame each other for the problems. Once this hurdle has been overcome, it is relatively easy to decide if you want to work on making things better.

The key to success in Step 2 is to identify the positive outcomes of healing and growing the relationship. Unless there is a reason to move forward, there will be an endless cycle of destructive behavior. This is also a great opportunity to share what you value about each other. This may be the trigger point to moving forward. The important thing is to keep the discussion positive and respectful. Recognize that each person is unique and you may share more differences than similarities. Actually, this is an advantage because of the learning potential for one another. And, it keeps the relationship alive and interesting.

Step 3 requires some homework. Do you both know how your brains are wired for communicating, thinking, working, learning, making decisions and solving problems? Most people do not have the self-awareness and the necessary knowledge to merge strengths for great relationship outcomes. This applies to relationships with lovers, friends, or associates in the workplace.

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