Handling Conflict

Try to eliminate as many “you” statements as you can. Criticism can be seen as an attack on a person’s character and pushes them to be defensive. A complaint should attack the issue and not the person. When you use an “I” statement, you will help your partner focus on a solution.

Here is an example of what not to say: “You need to take out the trash!” Here is an example of what to say: “I like it when you take that stinky trash out.” Use more “we” and “us” words when trying to have less conflict.

For great communication, be a good listener and don’t interrupt. To make sure that this rule is followed, you may want to come up with a fine for talking when the other person is talking (An example; a hug, a quarter etc.) to improve self-awareness.

Women: before you start to talk, inform your husband if you just need to vent so he could listen or if you just need a problem fixed.

Men; remember that conversation is a dialogue and not a monologue. If you are trying to come to a solution in a dialogue, decide who will be first to talk while the other listens.  Let the other person finish without cross complaining to meet your partner’s complaint. Don’t use criticism with a complaint of your own, ignoring what your partner has to say.

You can also repeat what the speaker says to make sure the point has come across or ask clarifying questions. Reverse roles afterwards. Formulate a statement that identifies the conflict for both partners and find agreed solutions.

When you are wrong; admit it. When you are right; don’t say; “I… told… you… so!”
Be careful not to turn your disagreements into a monologue, where only one person is dominating the conversation and the other may be stonewalling to avoid conflict. When you make an effort to be easy to live with, you will open up the heart of your partner.