In any relationship, no matter how long you have been together, conflict will arise from time to time. How you deal with the conflict can either bring you closer or cause you to drift further apart. Learning how to develop more effective communication skills can be beneficial for resolving disagreements and misunderstandings to lead to a stronger and lasting relationship.
Skill #1: Learn how to remain focused.
It is important to stay focused on the current conflict issue. It can be tempting to bring up past, unresolved conflicts. However, doing so, can create a further divide and make it feel like you and your partner are going in circles. Instead, only discuss the current conflict, your current feelings, and on reaching a solution.
Skill #2: Put yourself in your partner’s shoes.
Part of resolving conflict is taking a moment to step back and think about the issue from your partner’s point of view. They may have valid points that you are not considering because you are overly focused on making your points. When you both can do this, you will be able to better discuss the problem and resolve it.
Skill #3: Listen to what your partner is saying.
It is easy to shut down when we are upset and angry and not even take the time to listen to what our partner is saying. This never bodes well, and often leads to further conflict without much resolution. To make sure you are listening, restate what your partner says in the form of a question. Effective listening is part of communication and skill you and your partner both need to have.
Skill #4: Try to avoid becoming defensive when criticized.
When we are criticized it is easy to throw up walls around us and become very defensive. We may feel attacked, angered, or even hurt. However, you need to take a deep breath, pause, and really think about what the other person said. Is there any truth to what they said? This can be key to uncovering useful information that can be used to resolve the conflict.
Skill #5: Never try to “win” when resolving conflict.
It is not about winning a disagreement or argument. Rather, you need to learn how to compromise and develop creative solutions that are appropriate for both of you. Taking this approach avoids one person always getting their way and causing feelings of resentment to grow and foster.
Both you and your partner need to practice these skills to help resolve conflict and continue to improve your relationship. If you or your partner are struggling at applying communication skills when you have disagreements, it can be beneficial to get help from a qualified couples counsellor.
Your couples counsellor works with you and your partner to help you develop effective communication skills. They also can assist you in developing better listening skills. For further help in improving and strengthening your relationship with our partner, schedule an appointment with Toronto couples counsellor, Ellen Starr at 416-488-3102 today!