Here, at the Urban Dater, we know a thing or two about resolving conflicts… Actually that's not true at all! We sort of excel at creating conflict and even though we do our best to deny what we excel at, the simple truth is: We are subject matter experts in creating conflict.
For example, I have a tendency to poke and prod people into action if I don't get a reaction from them. Naturally, the person choosing to ignore and/or not talk to me will be the target of direct prodding from me until they explode. The result that comes out of this is usually me getting poked in the eye with a sharp stick. Ouch! I'm sure we can agree that neither the path of poking and prodding people or ignoring people you're upset with are productive ways to handle conflict. They're both childish actually, regardless of how “grownup” we might think our reasons may be.
That said, let's cover a few way stupids aka “adults” might better handle resolving conflicts, shall we…
1. Avoiding Conflict Altogether:
Rather than addressing the elephant in the room, people let frustrations build which, in-turn, causes resentment. The lack of discussion builds up frustration; typically it's a slow build in a pseudo calm/respectful manner. The individuals at conflict with one another continue to “respectfully” not say anything to one another until someone is ready to explode at the other; anger rules the day, harmful and hurtful things get said, kittens cry, resentment spreads across all that was good and your cheerios taste like someone pissed in them… Yes, avoiding conflict is great! I don't avoid conflict, I meet it head on because it's uncomfortable.. However, for me, it can be more of a game than anything, which isn't good. I guess my point here is avoiding conflict does a great job at raising tensions, raising resentments and escalating conflicts to nastier levels of bull-shittery. Lame, eh? In short, talk about your shit that you have with the other person… It's healthier n' stuff.
2. Being Defensive:
This is my favorite! Not taking responsibility for a frak-up is, in a word, lame. When one is defensive, they completely lack the respect to be objective and try to understand the conflict from the other person's shoes… There is no addressing of the complaint and therefore no path to resolution. Being defensive insures that the object of the conflict denies any wrong doing and look the other way with respect to how they might be a part of the problem. The problem with this is that it does create a sense of resentment in the person who feels affronted. As with any bad shit that builds up over time, if you let things stew and fester, then things will explode. It's only a matter of time. The next time someone has a problem with you, for example, let's say you pooped on the toilet seat, listen to the complaint against you and try to understand how that could negatively impact the person who is complaining and then go clean up the poo!
Sometimes my girlfriend is guilty of this. “YOU ALWAYS DO THIS…” or “YOU NEVER SAY THIS…” You get the idea. Generally this is when people make a mountain out of a mole hill. They blow things out of proportion and it's hard to get around this mountain of conflict. This can also be compounded when people start bringing up the past…. Another conflict resolution no-no. So stop and think “do they really NEVER do this?” or “Do they NEVER say this or that?” Think before you cast judgement.
4. Being Right:
This is the one I'm most guilty of, I think. Since I tend to think I'm right all the time, I tend to be a bit of an asshole about it. I'll poke and prod, just to make someone “quit” and say that I'm right. Often, I'm demanding that people see things from my point of view… I can be a total shit about it. When I find that I'm doing this, I do try to find the compromise… I realize that I can't expect people to see things my way all of the time, or even most of the time. Just because someone doesn't fall in line with your point of view doesn't mean your view is wrong and it doesn't mean that you're being attacked; it just means there's a difference of opinion. Sometimes, conflicting point of views can both be “right.” Yes, I just fucking said that.
5. “Psychoanalyzing” / Mind-Reading:
Sometimes I feel like I can analyze well what a person is thinking and assume intentions pretty accurately. Most times I'm a fucking asshole who shouldn't be messing with peoples' minds in the first place. Unless a person tells you what's wrong with them and how they're feeling, try hard to avoid making assumptions and drawing your own conclusions. Trust that a person will tell you what's wrong and then talk about it, if the opportunity presents itself. Doing otherwise can create hostility and resentment and a general feeling of assholery.
6. Forgetting to Listen:
Has this happened to you: You are having a discussion with someone and they cut you off; eager to interject their own “wisdom and experience” and take over your part of the conversation. Have you ever tried to tell someone why you were upset and the other person rolls their eyes at you and launches into what they feel and think and shut down. Some people would call this “NOT FUCKING LISTENING.” I think that for most, we just have to re-learn how to listen to what people are trying to tell us. I do this with my business clients actually. I get excited about something cool and want to share that coolness with my clients before they finish their thoughts. I've learned to get better with that. Listening promotes understanding and helps cut out resentment or misgivings that arise from people being not taking the time to really listen and empathize.
7. Pointing the Finger of Blame:
Some people handle conflict by criticizing and blaming the other person for the situation. They see admitting any weakness on their own part as a weakening of their credibility, and avoid it at all costs, and even try to shame them for being ‘at fault’. Instead, try to view conflict as an opportunity to analyze the situation objectively, assess the needs of both parties and come up with a solution that helps you both.
8. Trying to ‘Win’ The Argument:
Dr. Phil is an ass-wipe, a true penis head. However, he does have a point when he states “when two people focus on winning the argument, it's the relationship that actually loses.” People need to take a breather, step back from the conflict and really identify what the most important thing. For me it's all about the butt. I mean, it's all about winning right? No, of course it isn't. Again, one needs to work on being objective and trying to understand the otherside of the argument, making concessions and really trying to find that “middle ground.” Sure, you can win the argument, but is it really worth losing a relationship in the end?
9. Making Character Attacks:
Sometimes people take any negative action from a partner and blow it up into a personality flaw. (For example, if a husband leaves his socks lying around, looking it as a character flaw and label him ‘inconsiderate and lazy’, or, if a woman wants to discuss a problem with the relationship, labeling her ‘needy’, ‘controlling’ or ‘too demanding’.) This creates negative perceptions on both sides. Remember to respect the person, even if you don’t like the behavior.
When one partner wants to discuss troubling issues in the relationship, sometimes people defensively stonewall, or refuse to talk or listen to their partner. This shows disrespect and, in certain situations, even contempt, while at the same time letting the underlying conflict grow. Stonewalling solves nothing, but creates hard feelings and damages relationships. It’s much better to listen and discuss things in a respectful manner.