7 Realistic Ways to Manage Conflict before Things Get too Heated

BY: - 24 Jun '13 | Marriage

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Have you ever just wanted to react to your partner without thinking about it first and with no regard to what the results might be; even if you knew better? You’re not alone. When someone pisses us off, it’s normal for our instincts to kick in and cause us to become defensive and argumentative. But having effective conflict management tools under our belts equips us for the inevitable.

There is always a point in time when you hear that message from God that it’s time to leave. When you don’t act on that, consequences arise.

Whenever a conflict is mishandled, serious consequences take place. I recently heard words of wisdom on this very topic from Mike Haywood, former Football Coach at the University of Pittsburgh. Mike shared a very interesting perspective on conflict. “There is always a point in time when you hear that message from God that it’s time to leave. When you don’t act on that, consequences arise.” Mike actually learned this lesson the hard way. He was fired after just 2 ½ weeks because he was arrested and charged with felony domestic battery and misdemeanor domestic violence.  The charges were dismissed 2 years later after he completed counseling and community service.  Mike recalled the situation and regrets not acting on that voice and walking away. Unfortunately, Mike Haywood’s story isn’t unique.

Couples need to know how to properly handle conflict. Below are 7 realistic ways to deal with relationship conflict.

  1. Manage the situation before it escalates. But if it does, we must obey the voice inside telling us it’s time to leave. When the tempers are flaring and an immediate solution doesn’t appear to be on the horizon, a break from the conversation may be needed. Each party should regroup and come back to the table with a cooler head.
  2. Walk away from your impulse not just the other person. Whatever your inner man/woman is saying that doesn’t align with peace, promptly ignore it.
  3. Use self control. Bite your tongue when necessary and choose your words carefully. Speak clearly, calmly and with purpose. People stop listening when there is yelling involved. Once something hurtful is said, it can’t be reversed.
  4. Address the behavior and don’t attack the other person. Pointing fingers and playing the blame game are never productive. Discussing what hurts us doesn’t have to result in our condemning our partner’s character. We usually wish they would have made another choice, so why don’t we just say that instead.
  5. Shut up and listen. There are at least two sides to every disagreement. We won’t ever understand the other point of view if we never stop talking and listen.
  6. Be conscious of the body language. Even if we say we hear our mate, but our lips are turned up and off to the side and all of our body is saying “yeah right” we will not arrive at that peaceful solution we hoped for.
  7. Think and act with the end in mind. We have to consider the result we want? If it’s for our spouse to see the situation our way, the argument has to be reasonable and take all sides into consideration. Do we want to come to a happy middle ground? Then looking at the challenge from our partner’s point of view is crucial.

Next time you find yourself at odds with your partner, try at least one of these tips. Remember, effectively managing conflict will save your relationship.

BMWK, what advice would you offer on handling relationship conflict?

About the author

Tiya Cunningham-Sumter wrote 344 articles on this blog.

Tiya Cunningham-Sumter is a Certified Life & Relationship Coach, founder of Life Editing and a Career Coach/Trainer. She helps couples and individuals rewrite their life to reflect their dreams. Tiya has been featured in Ebony Magazine, Essence.com and on the Michael Baisden Show. She resides in Chicago with her husband and two children. For more of Tiya's fearless life and love wisdom, visit her blog at www.theboldersister.com

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