3 Ways to Decrease Conflict with Anyone
According to the Gottman Institute, the average couple waits six years before seeking therapy when they have marital trouble. That is a long time to continue to stuff and stack resentment. If you don’t enjoy conflict, it can be challenging to navigate in your personal and professional relationships.
You try to avoid conflict with people and somehow it finds you. From disagreements about parenting styles to inner office personalities, there are plenty of opportunities to decrease conflict. Ignoring your feelings and staying silent doesn’t help. Since you can’t change another person and you may not have the ability to get professional help, you have the opportunity to improve yourself by taking action. How you respond can make a big difference. Try these three tips to decrease the chaos of conflict.
1. Lower your voice
When they go high, you go low, especially with the sound of your voice. Even if the other person is screaming, keep your voice low. You will notice that they will lower their voice when they realize that they are yelling and you are talking to them calmly.
When your partner speaks to you in a loud voice, respond with a low voice. Give them a chance to hear the difference. You are responsible for your half of the conversation so lowering your voice shows them that you aren’t going to act the same way as them. If they don’t lower their voice and begin to yell at you, then take action.
Do not shut down or storm out of the room. Tell them that you aren’t going to stay as they yell at you and that you are going to leave the room until you both can talk about it. After you tell them this, leave the room, and check in with them later.
2. Use “I” statements
The other person is expecting you to come at them in an argument. When you start your sentences with “I”, it forces them to stop a moment and listen. Don’t get caught up in their unhealthiness and chaos.
For example, your partner is angry at you because you forgot to follow up on making a call you promised you would do. If you reply by stating “You” such as “You always forget to do things I ask, and I don’t get angry at you.” Instead of pointing out all of the times your partner forgot to follow through, you have the opportunity to change.
Your response would start with an “I” statement. “I am sorry that I didn’t make the call. I got too busy and honestly forgot. I made a note to follow through with it tomorrow.” This shows your partner that you are taking accountability for what you did wrong and your plan to correct it. You are decreasing the chance of continued conflict by avoiding blame and owning your part.
3. Stop taking things so personal
It is easy during an argument to make what the other person is saying to you as very personal. Have you stopped to think that even though the person is dumping on you, that it may have nothing to do with you or the current situation? It doesn’t feel good to be yelled at or dumped on, but don’t take it personally.
Be accountable and responsible when it is your fault, however, don’t take everything a person says personally. Other people’s issues get triggered, and they can quickly bring it to current arguments. Whether it’s your partner, friend, or coworker, remember that just because they are saying something during the argument doesn’t make it a fact. Don’t take their words to heart if it doesn’t fit the situation.
When you begin to personalize everything that comes your way, then you can quickly spiral into emotions and lose focus on the topic of the argument. This makes it impossible to resolve issues in real time. In relationships, these often get stacked and stuffed which leads to resentment.
Your goal is to decrease conflict. You can only change yourself which includes your thoughts, behaviors, and actions. Your ability to make these changes will help you and when you change, the system you are in begins to change. Some people like conflict and chaos. If you aren’t one of these people, implement these three techniques and take back control of your role in the conflict.
About the author:
Known as the real-world relationship expert, Kristie Overstreet Ph.D., LPCC, LMHC, LPC, CST teaches people to improve their connection with themselves and others. She is a clinical sexologist, psychotherapist, and author. She is the author of Fix Yourself First: 25 tips to stop ruining your relationships and 4 Weeks to Improve Your Relationship as a Couple. She knows when people have a foundation and build off the positive aspects of themselves it leads to improvements in their personal and professional relationships. She motivates, inspires, and helps people to create self-change for personal growth. With 12 years of clinical experience, she has developed best practices in relationship dynamics within families. Her mission is to empower all individuals to shift their focus so they can achieve and maintain the life they deserve. She has given a TEDx talk on healthcare and is a sought-after expert in relationships. She also serves as a national contributor to CNN, Psychology Today, Readers Digest, Women’s Health, Men’s Health, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, and various other media.