Conflict Resolution Could Save Your Life

In a time when school shootings, road rage, terrorism and violent behavior seem to be everywhere, it just follows that people will experience conflict throughout their lives.

Conflict is a part of everyday life. Taking a look at some basic family conflict resolution techniques is a good way to learn conflict resolution. These techniques may help you to learn how to handle conflicts that occur in other parts of your everyday life. These days, with so many angry people out there, knowing how to resolve conflict and keep a situation from getting out of control may just save your life.

Start at Home With your Family

Knowing the basics about conflict resolution starts at home, with your family. If you practice and learn conflict resolution from those around you at home, you will be able to take some of those skills with your into the workplace, school, the road or even the grocery store.

Getting to "Win-Win" in Family Conflict Resolution

While some conflicts may rage and spiral out of control, others end with successful resolutions. The absolute best outcome in conflict resolution is when all sides get all they want. This rarely happens, however, the next best thing is to see that everyone gets some of what they wanted. This is the goal of successful conflict resolution.

In order to get to a "win-win" resolutions, all parties involved in a conflict must follow some simple guidelines. The first step, information gathering, involves every family member feeling free to speak what is on their mind while everyone else listens. This will almost always reveal the actual basis of the conflict along with the associated hurt feelings which occurred as a result.

Once the conflict is revealed, the next step is solving problems, altering behaviors or setting new boundaries in order to avoid any future conflict. Along with this is the selection of an outcome with which everyone can live - an outcome in which everyone can say that at least some of their interests have been satisfied.

Finally, there should be some level of accountability to make sure all parties are conforming to the mutually agreed upon solution. This is usually handled by a senior family member, perhaps the father or mother. In any case, the leader of the family must follow up to ensure the conflict resolution is implemented and that relationships remain intact.

Learn to Be a Good Listener

This is perhaps one of the most important of all family conflict resolution techniques. Personally, I think listening is more important than how you express yourself. Think about this: How can two people know the others feelings or position unless one listens to another?

Successful conflict resolution requires that all sides understand one another. If the people involved in a conflict only care about their own perspective, there will be no possibility of resolution.

     Signs You Are a Good Listener 

  • You clear your mind and focus on what others are saying
  • You ask others to help you understand their position or feelings
  • You don't think about your response when others are speaking
  • You lean close and sit in an open posture
  • You nod to indicate you are actively listening
  • You absorb information without reacting
  • You ask questions


Learn to Communicate Your Feelings

When everyone involved in family conflict is able to express their honest feelings, conflict resolution becomes much easier. Sometimes, in the heat of an argument or dispute, family members may become aggressive and try to force their point of view. This aggressive behavior only tends to make other, more timid members of a family less than honest in expressing their true feelings.

As a child growing up in our family home, I witnessed my father doing this very thing many times. He was an imposing figure - 6-foot four-inches tall, ex-Army Airborne, very fit and very loud. My father would bellow at us angrily and we knew better than to respond in any way except immediate and total compliance. He typically resolved the conflict right then and there - and got his way.

When I became a parent, my spouse and I wanted to create a different atmosphere in our home. We decided our kids would be free to express themselves no matter how difficult the conflict. We rewarded honesty and did not respond negatively. So far it has worked very well. As a bonus, our kids can handle conflicts with others in the workplace, family home or anywhere because they have seen family conflict resolution techniques that actually work.

The lesson here is clear: People in a conflict will usually cower and hide their true feelings when they feel threatened. This makes resolution impossible. For a better outcome, encourage honesty and do not react negatively when people express how they really feel.

     8 Basic Steps to Resolve Family Conflict

  • Affirm the relationship - remind them of your love for them
  • Actively listen to what is said by each person involved
  • Define the problem completely
  • Stick to the issue of resolving this single problem
  • Forgive - you can't move on unless you do this
  • Offer a solution that satisfies all family members - "Win-Win"
  • Monitor the situation holding all family members accountable to change
  • Leave it behind and move on


Resolving Family Conflict is Vitally Important

Family is a precious and priceless institution and doing everything within your power to resolve conflict within a family is what most of us want.

However, there are times when resolving a conflict is just not possible. If all conflict resolution techniques have been exhausted, then the only solution may be putting some distance between all parties involved.

In a family, this may simply mean separating two people to allow time to think and cool off. In a marriage, this might mean a trial separation for both partners. If there is abuse involved, conflict resolution may not help much. Sometimes personal safety takes priority over resolving the conflict.

One thing is for sure - only you can determine if a situation is beyond resolution. If you are involved in a relationship where conflict occurs frequently and attempts at resolution have failed, then something may need to be done about that relationship. You have to decide when resolution is not working. It may be time to look at another solution.

Perhaps you need to re-evaluate the relationship and make some temporary or permanent changes. Perhaps some specific boundaries need to be established. Remaining in relationships which allow conflict to continue without some type of resolution may only serve to make that relationship worse.