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Conflict is inevitable. It’s almost always uncomfortable in the moment but frequently, conflict can be a valuable part of life. Whether or not you find value is incumbent on being open to learning and growing. You can engage in conflict in a healthy way. You can develop conflict-resolution skills that will serve you well as you move forward.

But all of this falls firmly into the “easier said than done” category. Conflict rattles your emotions. It’s tricky to make productive with rattled emotions. Rest assured, though, it is possible and it’s well worth the effort. With that noble purpose in mind, let’s dig deeper.

6 Ways to Engage in Conflict in a Healthy Way

  1. Be Direct and Respectful

Disagreeing with a loved one is not fun. Thus, it’s understandable that we’d try to evade the situation. However, time and time again, direct communication proves to be the best choice. Don’t sit back and let things fester. And resist the temptation to express your anger in passive-aggressive ways.

  1. Stay Curious and Listen 

There is little if any value in digging in your heels and preparing for a fight. If someone close to you disagrees with you, it is a golden opportunity to learn something. Be curious about their perspective. Do the work to understand where they are coming from. You can understand a person and disagree with them at the same time. Creating such an outcome requires all sides to listen. Everyone wants to be heard so why not allow that to happen?

  1. Take Responsibility For Your Role/Apologize When Necessary

You may be in the wrong about the point at hand. Or you may be wrong in how you handled yourself during the agreement. The right thing to do is to own your behavior and hold yourself accountable. If an apology is called for, step up and deliver an authentic mea culpa.

  1. Set, Enforce, and Respect Boundaries

Everyone involved in the conflict has the right to set their own boundaries. Lead by example when it comes to this critical tactic.

  1. Focus on the Conflict, Not the Person 

You can love someone yet disagree vehemently on certain topics. Solving a problem with a partner, close friend, family member, or anyone you love is a powerful way to deepen that connection. So, avoid the urge to engage in insults, sarcasm, or any kind of disrespect.

An excellent choice in this effort is to use “I” statements. Check out this statement: “You always [fill in the blank].” By definition, it is an accusation. Hence, it does not belong on a list with the word “healthy” in its title. An “I” statement is an expression of opinion and perception, e.g. “I feel frustrated when this happens.”

  1. Don’t Compete

The ideal resolution of a conflict is a win-win. This isn’t a sport or a war. Spoiler alert: There doesn’t have to be a loser.

Ask For Help if Conflict Becomes Too Much

When emotions are running high, you can lose sight of how you feel and what you believe. It’s very disconcerting. There is no shame in struggling with finding ways to heal conflict-related wounds. No one should be expected to just instinctually know how to disagree with others in the healthiest, most productive way. That’s where therapy comes into play.

Working with a skilled practitioner is the ideal setting to work through conflicts and prevent conflicts. Your sessions become a workshop of sorts in which you can explore underlying causes and discover new ideas. You do not have to live in a state of unhealthy conflict. Reach out today to set up a free consultation and we’ll get you moving to a new and better place with relationship counseling.

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Therapy for Men is a practice led by Dr. Rick Pomfret which offers counseling and psychotherapy services tailored to the needs of men. Their services encompass anxiety therapy, depression therapy, relationship therapy, men’s issues and support for those navigating life transitions or divorce. With offices in San Francisco and Corte Madera, Therapy4Men provides convenient access to mental health care for men in the Bay Area and online across California.