Managing Conflict Between Two

Relationships do not always run smoothly; often in a relationship there would be a conflict from time to time. Many of us have this perception whereby conflict is bad for a relationship; as it usually damages and cause a relationship to end. Indeed, conflict occurs maybe due to differences in perception; when couple do not see eye to eye on a certain matter. However, conflict occurs because both parties still care for the other; no arguments can be continued if one or both doesn’t bother about the other. Thus, conflict acts as a form of communication. If the conflict is managed successfully, it can strengthen the relationship and not lead to termination.

There are many ways to deal with conflict. Different individuals have their own preferred ways of doing so. Whether they will resolve the conflict or whether will worsen it, will depend on their conflict styles and their attitudes toward the conflict. Below is a clip from the movie “Crazy Stupid Love” shows two different ways and attitudes opt by two individuals in a relationship.

Seen in the clip, Emily Weaver approached the conflict using direct confrontation where she directly addresses the problem she and her husband, Cal Weaver had. This direct expression of feelings allows the other party to know what are her needs to be met. However, Cal in response, opt for withdrawing. The minute he sensed the conflict, he tried to stop his wife from addressing it; telling if she keeps talking, he will get out of the car. As Emily ignored and continued on approaching the subject, he tried to avoid and escaped by getting out of the car. The method of withdrawing is only appropriate if the issue is unimportant and there is no need to build a strong relationship with the other party or if engaging in the conflict would worsen the issue. However, in Carl’s case, withdrawing just postpones his problem and make it worse.

From Emily’s and Cal’s case, we can see that when two different styles and attitudes used toward the conflict can actually clashed and make the matter worse. However, that does not means that adopt the same methods and attitudes could solve the problem either. For example, if both opt for withdrawing, the conflict would usually ends up in one party gunnysacking where he/she would explode in anger at a certain point. It is essential for both parties to adopt a certain way of managing interpersonal conflict that complements the other depending on the seriousness of the conflict. For example, one could try to accommodating for unimportant issues to please someone you cares for and thus not making the matter worse. But this is not the best alternative way as over-doing it would result in unstated resentment.

The best way of managing interpersonal conflict is through problem solving. Problem solving means both parties sit down together, being open and direct to thrash out the problem and seeking options that benefit everyone. This process often needs people to see and understand things from other person’s point of view. This is better than reaching a middle ground that satisfies no one. But we do not use this method often.

In my case, I often opt for either accommodating or withdrawing. I am certain to tell you that I always ended up gunnysacking at the other party. At this point, often the other party got offend by my action and does not understand why I had this “sudden” blew up. In turn, the conflict got worse.

Often in many cases, it would be one party trying to accommodating or compromising the other as they are fearful of conflict, whereas aggressive people often see problem solving or compromise as weakness. Thus, it is hard to address the conflict in terms of mutual interests.

Managing a relationship is never easy; conflict happens to everyone from time to time. What are your experience in dealing with conflict? And how do you feel about the fact that people seldom practice problem solving when dealing with a conflict?


9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kay aka Babygirl
    Oct 03, 2011 @ 04:40:06

    I really enjoyed this post. And you’re right, managing a relationship is never easy but it takes two. And those two have to want to be in the relationship first.. in order to fix it.


    • tanyouyi
      Oct 03, 2011 @ 23:18:53

      Thanks, glad that you enjoyed reading 🙂 yeah, it is essential for two to work it out properly; relationship works only when both sides learn to give and take.


  2. B.N.N.B
    Oct 04, 2011 @ 14:03:59

    Usually when conflicts arise, I will first try to divert my anger or sorrow by doing other activity like exercising. When I have calmed down, I will slowly progress on means to approach the other parties to resolving this conflicts.
    I personally think that trying to talk to the other parties immediately after a big arguments without calming your emotions down may be a harmful things to do. Your brain may still remembers the negative feelings and soon, you will be attacking or defending yourself again. Thus worsening the problem.
    Therefore, I would certainly prefer to be given some time to think through before trying to talk to the other parties.


    • tanyouyi
      Oct 07, 2011 @ 14:38:37

      Yes, looking at what you have mention, I feel that time is also an important factor in managing conflicts too. You have this “cool down” period before apporaching the existing problem again which would helps in both understanding and the reassessment of the conflict 🙂


  3. Pearl Yang
    Oct 07, 2011 @ 11:29:41

    Good insight about managing conflicts! Well, in the example you showed, it is about the conflict among couples. I certainly believe that the solutions that you have given can also be applied to the conflicts between parent-child and friends.

    What I think about interpersonal conflict is that, listening to the other is most important. What is the point of talking when the other party is not listening? Conflicts makes each party behaving in an irrational way. Problem solving would definitely be the best way to resolve conflicts, but I believe this is a skill that not much will grasp in their lives. I do pratice problem solvin in conflicts, as I know that rational and listening is way better than shouting and argueing.


    • tanyouyi
      Oct 07, 2011 @ 14:20:36

      Thanks 🙂 Yes, the solutions definitely are applicable to all conflicts no matter what kind of relationship they are in; whereas conflicts happen to everyone and solutions are applicable to every conflict. I agree to your point that listening is an important factor in dealing with conflicts. Listening is the starting point that allows us to know what is the other’s point of view; to see where the other party is coming from. After listening, rational comes into play, allowing us to understand the arguement presented by the other party and thus, it may make sense to us why he/she acted/reacted in a particular manner. Anyway, it is good to know that you subscribe to the technique of problem solving, afterall its the best technique to solve a conflict! 🙂


  4. Stephanie Tan
    Oct 07, 2011 @ 13:47:21

    Conflicts are pretty much unavoidable in life. No one is exactly the same and therefore there will be times when even the closest of people don’t see eye to eye.

    However managing conflicts with is an important social skill, be it for personal or business/ work relationships. Different people have different ways of managing conflict.

    In my personal relationship with my boyfriend i normally keep quiet and think about the issue at hand and then systematically bring my point across. Somewhat like a exposition essay with supporting arguments. It may seem a little impersonal though =x


    • tanyouyi
      Oct 07, 2011 @ 14:58:46

      Well, by understanding what you meant of an expository essay, I feel that being a little impersonal might be a good way to deal with the conflict. By looking at the problem not involving personal feelings somewhat is like a third person’s point of view, allows people to evaluate the conflict even more clearly; to see the problem in a whole new way, who knows whether one may end up thinking that all along its silly to fight over such a thing. I guess, as long as one do not let their emotion/s rule their head and systematically bring the point across to the other party, there would be a higher chances of resolving the conflict.


  5. Lynnie
    Oct 08, 2011 @ 19:22:19

    Good communication is a strong point for couples. It is inevitable for couples to have their disagreements because men and women communicate differently. For example, women like to share their own problems with one another, men don’t usually share their problems unless they really want a solution. Women become close friends by girls talk and men become friends by doing stuff together.
    Your partner can never be a mind-reader, I think it is good for a couple to spend some time apart to cool off. This gives both parties more time to think about how they can clear the air. Or we can try to put ourselves in our partner’s shoes:D


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