Managing Conflicts – Going Beyond the Self

Posted By: Poonam Srivastava/Atika Singh                

The most visited and important area in a relationship is the combat zone; how one faces the opponent and what strategies he/she uses determines the course of the relationship. In other words how conflict is managed decides the strengthening of a relationship or breaking it. But before we look at managing conflict it is important to know why it arises in the first place.

A difference in needs, perceptions, desires, interests, beliefs, ideas, or values between two people.

Regardless of the substance of the disagreement, though, conflict often arouses strong feelings. It’s often not the issue at hand but the feelings that are aroused and how we manage them is the challenge.

Everyone needs to feel understood, nurtured, and supported, but the ways in which these needs are met vary widely. It is important to acknowledge that both parties’ needs play important roles in the long-term success of most relationships, and each deserves respect and consideration.

In relationships, a lack of understanding about differing needs can result in distance, arguments, and break-ups.

Like in any battlefield the instinct is to survive similarly when we are in an argument our need is to protect ourselves and hurt the other, forgetting that he/she is the person whom we love.

In order to manage conflict it is important to assess what is really bothering us? What do I want the other person to do or not do? As most of the time we ourselves are not clear as to what is it that is really upsetting us?

Also the idea is not to “win” but to come to a mutually satisfying and peaceful solution to the problem. Using "I" statements like ‘I am feeling angry’ versus ‘you make me angry’ is very effective and does not compel the other to defend themselves. Invite the other to share his or her point of view and genuinely try to listen his or her concerns and feelings.

Be ready for some compromise in order to arrive at a consenting solution. In the initial years of my marriage things were difficult, we had a love marriage, yet we came from different backgrounds including different religions. There were of course many differences and conflicts on several issues especially around the family dynamics.

In my family all the members are practically intertwined with each other’s day to day life. Whereas my husband came from a family where most of the relatives were on their own trip including my in-laws. This stark difference gave rise to frequent conflicts, where my expectations were very different not just from my husband but also from his family.

It was only through a series of discussions with my husband over time I truly began to understand his family dynamics. And more importantly understood that their behavior was not targeted at me but it was more the question of the way they are!!

Our conflicts were an opportunity for growth for both of us, and over time as my husband and I drew closer so did our trust. We still have conflicts, but the fundamental premise is that we focus on the issue at hand and don’t bring unnecessary baggage to the argument. We can do this since we are completely secure, knowing our relationship can survive challenges and disagreements.

So enjoy fighting!!!!

(Poonam Srivastava is a Delhi based writer who has published books and articles on subjects of social innovation and practical spirituality. She also actively volunteers her time to promote causes related to these spheres.)

(Atika Singh is a post graduate in Counseling Psychology from Amity Institute of Behavioral & Allied Sciences and graduate in History from Delhi University. She has been actively involved in the emotional counseling space; and is passionate about empowering individuals to deal with their personal and professional issues, and achieve greater success. She is a certified Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) Practitioner.)
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