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Taking the Ouch Out of Relationship Conflict
2011-08-11 20:10:53

Love it or hate it, it won?t ever go away. No, not the angst of those extra 10 pounds; what I?m talking about is conflict. The fact is that as long as we are alive and breathing it will be there, often when we least expect it and especially when we don?t want it. It is as natural to relationships as caring. In fact, if you really understand the essence of conflict, it is actually good for you? least when you look back at what you learned from it. Even genie?s who pop out of bottles know they can?t dissolve the tension of disputes and annoyances. Take for example; the man who rubbed a magic lamp and this big old genie appeared. He told the man he would be honored to fulfill any wish. The man thought about what he really, really wanted. ?I hate to fly? said the man, ?airports are filled with tension and I hate the conflict of going through security and so, since my favorite place is Hawaii I would like you to build a highway from my home in San Francisco to Hawaii.? The genie was quiet, calculating the wish and finally said ?Sorry, can?t do; too complicated and would take time away from fulfilling other people?s wishes.? At that moment the man?s cell phone rang. It was his wife complaining about the fact he was coming home from work late, yet again. She was irritable and went on and on until he finally hung up on her. Turning to the genie with a huge sigh he said ?Okay, no route to Hawaii, then I?d like you to give me the secret of how to stop the constant conflict with my wife.? The genie thought for a moment and said ?Did you want that to be two lane or four lane highway?? For now, think of me as your genie. I?ll give you the skinny on how to resolve conflict in relationships. It is easier to do once you know what to look for. I?ll give you the road map as well as some clues on how to tame this very annoying yet often invisible dragon. No need to rub a lamp, just keep reading. Here are the basics: what you learned in your family as a child goes with you wherever you go. Some of you already know that, others are making a gagging sound. Now, I hear your thoughts; as adults you should be able to leave all the unfinished stuff behind, right? Never happens! You can move thousands of miles away yet there they are in your head; your mother telling you to stand up straight and your father telling you to get a better paying job. Or there is your sexy sister standing next to you as you look in the mirror and feel fat and ugly or your brother who got all A?s and made you feel like a dummy. Before I continue, let me offer a word of caution. When you understand how to diffuse conflict quickly and easily you will become like a magnet. People will be drawn to you, to your charisma. All sorts of possibilities will begin to open up ? new ideas, amazing opportunities, and a sense of freedom that defies description. So, use this information for the good of everyone you know, not just for your own personal gain. Once you learn how people?s past family life cause present time anxiety, stress and conflict you?ll be able to stop problems with lovers, co-workers, and friends; you?ll be seen as a leader and be in line for promotions at work and more fun and spontaneity everywhere. Here are the core concepts that will take you to a new level of relating: * Stop blaming and start owning * Make it safe for others to talk * Know the 13 most common patterns of behaving * Listen for repetition of words or phrases * Become a Pattern Aware Leader Let?s peel these down for a moment. There?s lots of buzz about being accountable for your own behavior. It is important to know that your behavior does not exist independently of others. You are part of a system of relationships and if someone pushes your buttons, guess what; you?re pushing theirs also. So take the plunge to be authentic, to talk about the part YOU play in the festering conflict. You become a true leader, opening the door for real and lasting relationship change. Take charge and make it safe for others to speak their minds. ?Why should I be the one?? you ask. Because you are the one reading this article, and therefore the one who wants to benefit from healthier relationships with less conflict. So, go for it! Learn to ask questions, lots and lots of questions rather than come into a dispute with a list of wrongs to be righted. How to ask questions, you ask? Make them open ended, starting with how, when, where what, and why. Here is the most important part. Once you ask a question you need to simply be quiet and give the other person a chance to answer. In the book, ?Don?t Bring It to Work?, the 13 most common patterns of behavior in the workplace are examined. They are the same patterns we learned in our original organization, the family. Take some time and decide which ones (there are usually two or three) that belong to you. You will also begin to see which ones drive you wild and cause you to react in ways that start ugly arguments. Here is the list: super achiever, rebel, persecutor, clown, persecutor, victim, rescuer, drama queen or king, martyr, pleaser, avoider, denier and splitter. In any conversation there are words and phrases that are repeated over and over. Do not ignore these. They are critical pointers to where the underlying upset is. Example one: if someone keeps talking about feeling isolated, yet you are always together, think about isolation in an emotional sense; are they being included or kept from making important decisions with you? Example two: if someone uses the word worthless over and over, look to see how you and others are acknowledging their contribution, everyone needs to be appreciated, so make adjustments as necessary. Becoming Pattern Aware is what you want to be! It cuts the time and the intensity of angry, disappointing ?you said, he said, she said? confrontations. Since you can never leave home without your family patterns it?s best to learn how to take the ones that derail your success in love and work and change them to their healthy opposites. Take patterns from our families that are positive and reinforce them; such virtues as respect, courage and altruism. Then, take the tiger by the tail; change the patterns that inflame. Be in charge of stopping the blame game that keeps us all stuck in pattern repetition. Albert Einstein defined insanity as ?Doing the same things over and over and expecting different results?. Get the ?OUCH? out of arguing by claiming and taming the world of interpersonal relationships. Overcoming your old, knee-jerk behaviors you become a more caring, capable, creative, compassionate, and collaborative individual. You become free from the ties that bind, and freedom is what we all want!

Dr. Sylvia Lafair, Author, Leadership Educator, Executive Coach for over 30 years is an authority on leadership and workplace relationships. She is President of Creative Energy Options, Inc. Visit and .

Source: Taking the Ouch Out of Relationship Conflict


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