Healthy Approaches to Conflict Resolution
Conflicts run all the way from minor, unimportant differences to disputes which can threaten the existence of a relationship.
Conflicts with a loved one or a long-term friend are, of course, different from negotiating with someone who does not care about your needs, like a stranger or a salesperson. However, there is an underlying principle that underscores all successful conflict resolution. That is, both parties must view their conflict as a problem to be solved mutually so that both parties have the feeling of winning – or at least finding a solution which is acceptable to both. Each person must participate actively in the resolution and make an effort and commitment to find answers which are as fair as possible to both. This is an easy principle to understand, but it is often difficult to put into practice.
We may get so caught up with our own immediate interests that we damage our relationships. If we disregard or minimize the position of the other person, if fear and power are used to win, or if we always have to get our own way, the other person will feel hurt and the relationship may be wounded. Similarly, if we always surrender just to avoid conflict, we give the message to the other person that it is acceptable to act self-serving at our expense and insensitive to our needs. Our feeling of self-worth suffers, resentment festers, and we feel poisoned in the relationship. Instead, it is healthier if both parties can remain open, honest, assertive and respectful of the other position. Mutual trust and respect, as well as a positive, constructive attitude, are fundamental necessities in relationships that matter.
Dr. Baya Mebarek, Psy.D.,LMFT