To prevent conflict from happening in the first place, it is important to identify the ways in which we contribute to the disagreement.
Most people have no interest in creating conflict with others. Most of us know enough about human behavior to distinguish between healthy communication and the words or actions that contribute to rocky relationships.
It is in our interest to maintain relations which are smooth, flexible, and mutually enhancing. The problem occurs when we fail to use cooperative approaches consistently in our dealing with others. We seldom create conflict intentionally.
We do it because we may not be aware of how our own behavior contributes to interpersonal problems. Sometimes we forget, or we are frustrated and annoyed, and sometimes we just have a bad day. At times we feel so exasperated that we focus on our own needs at the expense of others’. And then we find ourselves in conflict.
To prevent conflict from happening in the first place, it is important to identify the ways in which we contribute to the disagreement. One way of doing this is to identify a specific, recent conflicted situation, recall what you said, and then think specifically about how you could have used more effective language. Think about ways in which your communication could have set a more trustful tone or reduced defensiveness. Then, once you have identified your part in the conflict, such as blaming, practice working on that particular behavior for a day or a week. At the end of the time period, evaluate your progress. Did you succeed? In what situations did you not succeed? (While it may be the other person who created the conflict, you are the other half of the interaction and it is your own response that you have control over and can change.)
Dr. Baya Mebarek, Psy.D.,LMFT