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?

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