By Paul Lawal on
Conflict Resolution Intelligence: How To Resolve Relationship Conflict Without Building Resentment – By Evelyn K. Audu
It’s important to understand that relationship conflict is not the same as work place conflict. While the former is utterly emotional, the latter is largely logical. After all, the business world is solely govern by right and wrong paradigm. The more intelligent people are, the more knowledge (of right and wrong) they have about what they do, the greater their chances of success. This, however, is not true for relationships.
In relationships, especially in marriages, “right” and “wrong” is completely useless. The more “right” you claim in relationships, the greater your chances of being sad. Let me say it this way; you cannot be right and still be happy. You either choose to be right or you choose to be happy.
The best lawyer [the one who’s good at argument, who link facts and figures, the one who relate events with unarguable evidence, the most logical] wins the case. The best doctor [the one who knows the right drug to prescribe at the right time, the one with impeccable diagnosis, the one who saves more life] is regarded as the best.
The big problem, however is, most logical and intelligent people often have relationship and marital problems. I have seen this happen many times. The complications with such people are:
1. They know too many right things, in addition to that, they also know how to do a lot of things right. They believe in right and wrong. They believe they’re not meant to apologise when they’re right. Such people will argue things out, frustrating and undermining their spouse. Even when they’re meant to merely apologise and resolve conflicts, they’d hold on to their logical beliefs.
2. They bring their work place prowess into their relationship and marriage. They treat their spouse like their subordinate, they give commands and orders, rather than appeal and connect to their spouse emotions. Such people, usually, are purists. They are authoritative, strict, confronting, daring, and some times inconsiderate. Some of such people would verbally abuse their spouse.
3. They expect their spouse to think like them. Very intelligent people wonder why their spouse wouldn’t understand simple things. They wonder why their spouse would argue with them on things that are obviously wrong. You see, it’s extremely difficult for two people to see things the same way. Besides, right and wrong is relative.
The corporate world values hierarchy – the relationship that exits in work place is the boss/subordinate type. Resolving work place conflict, therefore, requires establishing first, who the boss is, then figuring out the dispute, fixing the disagreements and sanctioning the offender [if necessary]. The boss, they say is always right.
Resolving relationship conflicts, however, requires empathy and high level of emotional intelligence [EQ], as opposed IQ, which determines work place success. The lack of this knowledge leads to relationship dysfunctions.
The measure of how much you’ve grown in your relationship isn’t a reflection of sweet moments, rather, it’s how well you handle tough times. Relationships don’t always go smoothly, they have their tough moments, and it’s natural, especially right after the sweet early phase.
You know your relationship will last, not because you have it all rosy or because you have so much in common, but because you’ve been through many disagreements together and the relationship is still in the pink. How you handle disagreement is a key factor that determines the fate of your relationship. Here’s the gist: if you want a happy relationship, learn how to consciously enter into disagreements, not as antagonists, but lovers.
Here are some tips:
1. Explain your feelings, don’t express your anger, and no judgment should be passed. Simply say what you feel and how you feel, that’s all. Always bear in mind that you’re dealing with your spouse, not your subordinate. Don’t give commands, or ultimatum. Don’t interrogate and don’t threaten divorce, break up, etc. Don’t help your spouse check out emotionally in the process of resolving a disagreement.
2. Don’t avoid emotions, let them out and give your partner the room to do the same. When you keep your emotions, they eat you up and tear you apart. However, always remember that you’re dealing with your spouse and that you’re not disagreeing in order to pathways. Therefore, choose your words carefully. Don’t push your spouse beyond their elastic limits, don’t leave them broken because you’re going to need them afterwards.
3. Positively reinforce your partner when they are vulnerable, instead of making fun of, or dismissing their feelings. Pay attention to your spouse’s complains, don’t listen to speak, listen to understand. And when you do, don’t dismiss your spouse’s feelings. Don’t make them feel stupid, inadequate, less human or less intelligent. Don’t bring down your spouse because you want to win an argument, you won’t go scot free. It’s like a boomerang, it will hit you hard when it gets back to you.
4. Make the commitment to love each other, even when you disagree. Remember you’re not rivals, but a team. Always think of the fact that you’re still going to be together even after the disagreement. Don’t give low blows, don’t intentionally hurt your spouse. Arguments will be resolved, but bad impressions and hurtful words might not go off easily, some of them could last a life time.
5. Make the distinction that you’re frustrated with their behavior, not with who they are. This is very important – deal with the issue, not with your spouse. Don’t attack your spouse, don’t try to win – just make up your mind to resolve the disagreement. It’s not a game which requires a winner.
6. Listen before you speak, understand before you respond. Most times, we pick our spouses in between their words, we don’t allow them fully convey their meaning. Thereby building a wrong emotion and ultimately responding the wrong way. We all hate to be misunderstood. Give your lover the time they need, and don’t interrupt when they speak. Deal with current issues, don’t link one issue to other past issues. Don’t make unnecessary references, don’t remind your spouse of their past wrongs, it’s needless. Don’t complicate issues by frustrating your spouse.
7. Don’t make blames – you’re responsible for your feelings and your reactions. Most of us unfortunately believe our spouse is responsible for our feelings. “S/he got me angry” you probably would say, but no, you decided to get angry. Correct the mind-set that your spouse is your problem. Don’t treat your spouse the way they treat you, rather, the way you want to be treated.
8. Keep focused on loving your partner, rather than being right. It’s better to be wrong [take responsibility, accept blames] and make things right than being right and make things go wrong. Remember, you’re not all right and your spouse is not all wrong. You only need to find the middle ground, there’s always one.
9. Celebrate your differences. Whenever you disagree, always bear in mind that your spouse is not all wrong, s/he’s only seeing things differently. And you’re not all right because you’re also seeing things differently. If a thing is wrong to you and it’s right to your spouse, it makes it right, too. Don’t force your views, beliefs, desires, etc. on your spouse. Your spouse also have the right to his/her opinions. Besides, nothing is really wrong and nothing is really right – we define them.
10. Find the lesson in the disagreement. Ask yourself, what is the message in this disagreement? What is your spouse’s main concern? What exactly does your spouse wants to change? How will you prevent this from reoccurring in the future? Every disagreement is out to correct an abnormality in a relationship. Don’t fight and lose the lesson, learn it and keep it to heart.
The next time you disagree with your spouse on anything, do this:
Explain your feelings (in a calm manner, without being insolent) rather than nurture them. The longer an issue stays in your mind, the more complicated it becomes, and it will keep you unhappy as well. Don’t raise your voice, don’t walk away, don’t argue, don’t attack and don’t try to win, just explain your feelings and give your spouse the chance to explain as well. I’m sure it will work wonders.
What do you do when you have serious arguments with your spouse/lover? How do you resolve your conflicts? Use the comment box below, let’s hear from you.