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Conflict Resolution in Relationships

Updated: Jul 24, 2023

The word "conflict" often brings up a lot of emotions for many people. In fact, many would prefer to avoid it if possible, and some will avoid it at all costs. I often encourage people to not avoid it, including myself.


What words or emotions come to mind when you think of the word “conflict”?

Two unhappy women in Atlanta, GA. If you are trying to learn how to manage conflict in a healthy way, our Atlanta therapists would love to help.

Here are some possibilities: argument, war, anger, frustration, problem, fight, disagreement, tension, struggle, difference. These all have negative connotations, but they also have different degrees of discouragement associated with them. Conflict does not always mean a fight or an argument but can also mean frustration and tension between two people (even when no words have been spoken about a problem).


Let’s not forget the other important word above, “resolution.” For most of us, this word has a positive meaning. Hearing that word could bring up words and feelings such as: decision, solution, answer, end, tenacity, perseverance, and purpose. (Great words, right?)


The first time I heard of this idea of “conflict resolution” was when I was on a summer project with 19 other college aged students for 8 weeks. At the beginning of the summer, we listened to one of our leaders explain some concepts about how to resolve conflict. Because we all took their words to heart, we had an incredible summer. I’m not saying that there wasn’t conflict, but we were able to work things out as they came up, and it made life more peaceful and enjoyable.


OK, so what were some of those principles the leaders talked about? Don’t worry, I will get there!


First, I want to mention some of the realities of conflict. Often when we think of conflict in relationships we think of an argument, or a major disagreement. Possibly, it could also recall hurt feelings or frustration with the other person. Or, some kind of problem between two people. Conflict can be obvious, but it can also be subtle.


What are a few sources of conflict?


  • Feeling that the other person should understand or know something (making assumptions)

  • Not having healthy boundaries (either one or both people)

  • Lack of awareness and understanding of the other person’s love language

  • Lack of good communication

  • Avoiding a problem


Of course, the list above could be much longer, but these are general areas that often bring up conflict. When these kinds of issues are not addressed, the tension that conflict creates will have to come out somewhere. Imagine those feelings to be like a steam kettle on the stove. That water is heating up and the steam will have to come out somewhere! If it’s not addressed it will blow a loud, annoying whistle until you take it off the heat or open the top. Conflict is the same, it must be dealt with!


How to Learn to Manage Conflict in Marietta, GA

A group of people in conflict at work. Reach out to an Atlanta therapist today if you need help resolving conflict in your workplace.

I don’t claim to be an expert on managing and resolving conflicts, and I admit that I do avoid it at times. However, I have been thankful to have had some wonderful teachers and encouragers who have helped me learn how to handle conflict. Below are a few principles that have helped me the most in resolving conflict with others:


Don’t avoid it!


If there is a source of tension or a problem between you and another person (including if you know you need to apologize), take some time to consider it and go talk to that person as soon as you can. The longer you wait the harder it will seem. Plus, you will feel so relieved when you’ve done it! (Usually.)


Go directly to the person to try to resolve the problem


It’s OK to talk to maybe 1-2 wise friends to get their counsel (or your therapist!) but going to all your friends or coworkers to complain about someone else and to get them on your side is not helpful. If it bothers you that much, you need to go talk to that person about the issue.


Don’t make assumptions


Avoid “shoulds.” This means, if you find yourself thinking that another person “should just know,” or “everyone knows _____” or “that’s common sense to do/not do ____” – these are assumptions. Don’t assume that other people think or feel the way you do, or that they are aware that you are upset. The other person may have no clue. Or…they might have a clue, but if you don’t bring it up, they might have decided it’s OK.


Notice


It’s important to work on self-awareness as well as awareness of other people. For example, if I find that I’m very frustrated with a friend, after thinking it over I might realize that what I’m really frustrated with myself for not telling them no (boundaries!) or for not speaking up about my feelings or preferences (also related to boundaries).


Calm


It’s a good idea to wait until you are calm to seek to resolve conflict. And, if you need a cool-down break in the middle of a difficult conversation – take it! (But always be sure to return.)


Believe the best of the other person

A group of people with their arms around one another. Do you need help navigating how to see the best in others? Reach out to an Atlanta therapist today | 30080

Particularly if it is a close friend or loved one. Reminding yourself of the fact that you care about the other person, and they care about you could help reduce your frustration level and may help with your desire to resolve the issue.


I love helping my clients resolve conflict in Marietta, GA


Again, I don’t think I’m an expert at this – even though I have had plenty of experience in conflicts! Sometimes it can be helpful to have an unbiased ear to listen to and to help you to figure out how you want to move forward with an issue. We, as therapists, don’t want to tell you what to do. Rather, we do want to help you as you are finding your way.


“Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” Ephesians 4:26


“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” James 1:19


Begin Working With A Therapist in Marietta, GA


If you find yourself struggling to handle conflict, remember that you are not alone. Our team of caring therapists would be honored to offer support with in-person and online services from our Marietta, GA-based practice. You can start your therapy journey by following these simple steps:


1. Reach out to talk to a therapist in Marietta, GA.

2. Have your first appointment at Remain Connected.

3. Start learning to handle conflict in a healthy way.


Other Services Offered at Remain Connected Counseling

Our team knows you may experience more than stress and anxiety related to conflict. This is why we are happy to offer a variety of services including teen therapy, anxiety treatment, and EMDR therapy. In addition, we also offer life transitions therapy, depression counseling, and more all under a Christian counseling lens. By using online therapy, these services are available to anyone in Georgia. Learn more about our team of dedicated therapists and contact us for more information.

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