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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

How to solve conflict with family, friends and partners

How sad is it when two people who obviously care about each other fight and both end up getting hurt. In the worst cases a fight over something relatively meaningless can blow up into a feud that lasts a life time.Why does this happen?

I think there are a number of factors involved in these kind of conflicts and learning how to manage them will increase the richness and and depth of all our relationships.

One of the best skills and understandings is how anger works and how to process it. Anger is irrational and things people do and say when they are angry are not the same things they would say in a calm frame of mind. Realizing that people are literally not themselves when they are angry makes it easier to forgive them for the things they do and say and the things we do and say when we are angry. The main reason people who are close end up hating each other is due to things said or done in anger that CANT BE FORGIVEN.

Anger is usually best defused by calling it out and not getting caught up in it. For example saying "I can see you are really angry about something." gives someone a reason to start talking about why they are angry. That way the anger becomes something constructive. Of course if the anger is too intense it is better just to get out of it's way, like a torando, once the anger is passed then you can talk about it.

Understanding anger and how to manage it is important to stop things getting out of hand but it's really only managing the symptoms, to make your relationships really fruitful it is important to also understand the causes of conflict and how to process them.

One reason for conflict is being too sensative and personalising things too often. For example our partner might accidently slam a door in the morning while we are trying to sleep and we might assume they did it on purpose to annoy us. This kind of thinking can be very harmful to relationships. Generally people don't do things to hurt us unless they are angry in which case they are NOT themselves. Especially people we love! Just to repeat - people who love us don't do things to hurt us unless they are angry in which case they are NOT themselves!

Triggers are another reason people can get angry very quickly, basically if we have been hurt often while we are young in a particular way for example if we have been called a lot of names then when someone calls us names we can get instantly angry and lash out at people even though they probably were just teasing. There are two approaches to dealing with this kind of problem first knowing what peoples triggers are helps the other people around avoid them and if they do trigger them they are more aware the reason why that person lashed out and won't take it personally. The other way to process triggers is to actively work on overcoming them by practicing being aware of them and catching and defusing them yourself before they explode.

Another cause of anger or frustration is when someone we care about disappoints us with their behaviour. Basically we like to think well of people around us which is comendable and we hope they will do positive things in their life not what we percieve as negative things. What is really happening is we have a mental picture of them or what we hope they will be and when they do something contrary to this we get disapointed and angry. Overcoming this kind of issue means we need to change the way we think about people. They are not who we think they are they are who they are. When someone disappoints us it is our own mental model that needs to change so we can relate to them as who they are instead of getting angry because they are not who we want them to be. Likewise if someone gets angry at us because of their own mental model we can forgive them because they want the best for us in their mind. Generally it's good to comunicate at least once why you do the thing you do that makes them angry. This can help them start to change their mental model to accept you for who you are.

I think the last main cause of conflict is the random anger caused by outside factors, hot weather, stress, issues at work or with other people, lack of sleep etc all these can bring anger to the surface and so it important again to communicate when we are feeling these things so people will understand if we get a bit snappy and not take it personally.

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