When you live with the same people day in and day out, conflicts are bound to arise. Arguments can be as small as what to have for dinner and as large as a violation of trust. How you cope with these conflicts is often more important than the issue that sparked the conflict in the first place. Here are five effective conflict resolution skills that every member of the family should learn:
Don’t Speak in Anger
People often say things out of anger that they wish they could take back later. Your words can never be taken back once they’ve escaped your lips. Instead of speaking immediately, give yourself as long as you need to calm down. It may take you as little as five minutes or as long as an hour to be ready to talk to the object of your frustration, but you’ll be able to communicate more effectively after you’ve taken this time.
Don’t Lay Blame
When you’re discussing an issue with your family member, don’t play the blame game. Rather than telling your family member everything that they’ve done wrong, tell them how it makes you feel. For instance, if your teenager comes home after curfew, they already know they’ve broken the rules. Instead of screaming at them for walking through the door an hour late, explain to them that you are angry because you were worried that something may have happened to them.
It’s common for people to interrupt when others are speaking, even if it’s just to interject a single word. Instead of biting at the bit to get your two cents in, listen to what your family member is saying. Active listening can take practice, so don’t get frustrated with yourself if you don’t master the skill right away. When your family member is done speaking, ask them questions to be sure that you understand what they’ve tried to communicate.
Work Out a Solution
Once your conversation has come to a conclusion, work together to come up with a mutually agreed upon solution. Once you’ve decided on a solution, make sure that everyone involved in the conflict understands what it is and how it will be carried out. Work as a family to see the solution through to fruition.
Seek Professional Help
Conflicts may arise that are simply too large to deal with on your own. When these situations arise, it may be in the family’s best interest to seek professional help. You can find counselors in your area that specialize in a wide variety of issues. If your medical insurance does not cover the cost of professional counseling, you may be able to find a hotline or a volunteer service in your area that can offer the assistance that you need. Seeking professional help should never be looked at as a weakness, but as a way to help your family be the best that it can be.
Even the best of families find themselves in conflict now and again. How your family deals with these issues is the most important thing. Strong conflict resolution skills can not only help you solve the issues that arise within families, but can help you treat each other in a more respectful manner on a day-to-day basis.
Anthony Sanders blogs about how to resolve family conflicts, including using professional counseling services. If you are interested in counseling as a career, several schools offer masters degrees in counseling, including Wake Forest University and Seton Hall University.