01 Jun A Six Step Guide to Family Conflict Resolution
A Six Step Guide to Family Conflict Resolution
Conflict in life is impossible to avoid. We encounter conflict in our workplace, at school, with friends and even within the most important environment in our lives, our families. Each unique situation where conflict arises can be resolved by using some very basic techniques. However, some situations require more effort and patience. You can always change jobs or relocate. You will eventually leave school behind. You can and will acquire new friends who are more compatible with your beliefs and personality. But you cannot choose, change or leave your family. Family conflict resolution requires care, understanding and love. A simple format, taking these things into consideration, can help resolve or at least provide a solid framework for beginning to resolve family conflicts and issues.
1. Stop Fighting.
Just calm down. Begin a dialogue with the people involved in the conflict, whether it is one or more members of the family. Perhaps even if only one or two members of the family are actually involved in the conflict, all the members of the family may need to be involved in the resolution since they are directly affected by both the conflict and the end result. But, first and foremost, stop fighting. Fighting only deepens the conflict causing anger and resentment and feelings of helplessness and failure. Instead, choose a time and preferably a neutral place to gather. Ask everyone participating to come to the area in a calm frame of mind with a willingness to listen and talk to each other without fighting or fear of blame.
Each person should be allowed to identify the problem in their own words without blaming anyone. It should also be without fear of blame themselves. Be specific. Each issue probably has a number of smaller issues stemming from the root cause, but they are not important at this point. When the larger issue is resolved many of the resulting smaller issues will disappear as a result. Identify and address each problem as if it were the only one until a resolution is reached.
Discussion should be orderly and calm without each person talking or shouting over the other. Each person should be allowed to speak until they have completely expressed themselves and fully stated their concerns. The other members of the discussion should remain quiet and focus on listening to what the speaker is saying without mentally preparing a rebuttal before the speaker is done. Communication, both speaking and listening, has to be honest, authentic and committed. While each person speaks the others should be honestly hearing the speakers concerns.
When it is your turn to address the conflict, be sure you are speaking in a factual and non-emotional way. Leave anger out of the conversation. Be sure you have taken an honest self-evaluation and are able to express realistic statements and goals for resolution and future conflict prevention. Do not use anger, resentment, self-pity or being “right” to back up the way you feel about the conflict. Do not criticize or reprimand. This is not the time, nor is it necessary to assign blame, to come to a reasonable resolution. That will only derail any chance for calm conclusive discussion.
Do not give up, give in, or get out. This is not a healthy way to resolve any conflict. Compromise is not the same as giving up. Do not look at compromise as winning or losing. This attitude is sure to result in a complete failure to end the conflict in any satisfactory way. Do not hide the way you feel about the end result of the conflict. If you are not satisfied, speak up. But, if you see that others are willing to compromise to reach a solution, re-examine your resistance to see if you might try to let go of any negative feelings or emotions. Agree that if this conflict or any future conflicts arise, a family discussion will be the first tool that you use to try to resolve it.
6. Talk continues.
Your family is the most important thing in your life. Resolving conflict with them is of the highest priority and necessary to maintain these lifelong relationships. Learn to see the best in others, accept other peoples limits as well as your own. Take some space and time for you to think through each situation as it occurs and not with anger or resistance. Encourage other family members to do the same. Learn what you can control and what you cannot. While it is possible to resolve many, if not, most family disagreements; there may be some issues that require the assistance of a professional. Be honest when asking yourself and others if it might be helpful and even necessary to seek out the advice and assistance of outside help. There should be no shame or fear in enlisting help when you really need it.
No matter what, keep the conversations going. Talking to each other every day and resolving issues as they become apparent can keep conflict from growing and becoming out of control. The most important thing you can do is to take time to talk, play listen and love your family each for the unique individual that they are, and the important role they play in your life.
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