3 Ways to have more productive family conflict

Last time, we discussed workplace conflict. This week, it’s time to tackle family conflict. The tools are the same, but the approach is different due to the longer-term and more invested relationship. Here’s three ways to resolve these conflicts.

I love my mother, a lot. She’s very important to me. But, wow, we do not see eye to eye on a lot of issues. Sound familiar? We are related to people, not by choice, but by chance. At the same time, many of us value our family so much that we try hard to make those relationships work. Even though not always resolvable, many family conflicts can, at the minimum, be productive. Here are three ways to have more productive family conflicts.

Step 1: Own your perspective.

Whether its politics, religion, or relationships, when it comes to family, you have to own your perspective. You don’t have to flaunt your views around and act in a superior manner. The reasons that differing points of views perpetuate over time are many, and it becomes difficult to break through ten or thirty years of one perspective. So, when dealing with a family conflict, it becomes especially important to be mindful in your perspective. Stand up for yourself, but do not throw anyone else under the bus. If you disagree, simply acknowledge it, and listen to the other perspective: you might learn something.

 Step 2: Understand the other perspective.

In any conflict, it is important to understand someone else’s perspective. This is more than just listening. In a family conflict, you must attempt to understand the other person’s perspective. This translates to deep, empathetic listening. Further, asking clarification questions is important. Even when you don’t agree with the perspective, trying to deeply understand someone’s else’s perspective helps to lessen the blow. Because the relationship will go on, having a better understanding of an opposing perspective will enable future, productive discussions. At the worst, this understanding will help aid in avoiding these conversations in the future. Even if its painful to understand a perspective you don’t agree with, in the long run, it’s beneficial to at least try.

Step 3: Compromise

A good conflict resolution agreement involves compromise. If you are willing to compromise, you are more likely to keep each person who is part of the conflict happy. Now, by compromise, I don’t mean to say give in on your views. You don’t have to change your mind when in conflict with a family member. In family conflicts, often, the best resolution is to agree to disagree. When you agree to acknowledge that your perspectives are not going to align, you are agreeing to something positive. There is nothing wrong with having different opinions, despite what the media says. It’s okay to not see eye to eye on a variety of topics. When you come to the compromise to continue to disagree, where does that leave you? Essentially, an agreement to disagree is an agreement to stop talking about a topic. This is the ultimate family compromise. Don’t agree on your political perspectives? No problem! Leave it at home, and have a nice Thanksgiving without it.

It’s a two-way street, of course. As the bigger person, your version of compromise might be listening over speaking. If you realize that the person with whom you are in conflict is owning their perspective without listening to yours, your compromise might be knowing that the other person is not going to understand your perspective. Just remember, when dealing with family, you can’t always win, but you can try.

Next Time

The last type of conflict that we need to explore is that in a personal relationship. These relationships are the most transient, in a way, so dealing with them requires a special kind of