How the woman I argued with constantly taught me the greatest lesson in relationship conflict management.
Throughout all our relationships, and always in life, things are never certain but simply always changing. The fluid ebb and flow of dynamics between two people (as always in life) are ever flowing and never the same. While, generally in any relationship, whether work related or romantic, we always must deal with ups and downs. At times, things are great, while during others, this can easily change never seeming like they’ll get better and leaving you in a possibly awkward situation. It is in these moments where things aren’t going well that we tend to be most tested.
Why? Because ultimately it is what we do when we are challenged and things aren’t going easy that not only are we most watched, but are also the biggest indicators of how we will act in the future. Make no mistake, these times say a LOT about you. This is why it’s vastly important that when these moments occur, how you FIRST react to them are VITAL. As people, not only do our first impressions of others ingrain how we view someone but how we react to new difficulties say JUST as much. After all, “Facta non Verba”-your actions scream, words whisper. One can talk and act all they want but know to ALWAYS follow what people do and not what they say in ALL aspects of life.
When the Foundation Starts to Shake.
So what is MOST important throughout this process to do, or when arguing? STAY calm. How you initially react after someone has crossed a boundary (whether your partner or a customer) says a LOT about you. In all likelihood this item has been previously discussed and you’re approaching it again, which means you haven’t addressed the item duly or rectified a change in your behavior (aka you didn’t truly learn your lesson and apply new behavior). As is always possible, this may be something new that’s throwing you off. Regardless, the most IMPORTANT aspect is to remain calm. Do not overreact, as this will only make one more definite in their (likely) negative opinion of you and make their resolve stronger.
There WILL be the initial period where things are awkward and you are arguing. Whatever you do, get to the REAL issue. When people are upset they tend to stay that way, blinded by emotion instead of getting to the real issue. Instead of dealing with the real item, they then react off of other things or bring up other items because they’re already in a highly emotional state. Whenever you or someone is in this state, be aware that they’re not in a logical state of mind.
If you can’t dig to the crux of the problem, for example; trying to get issue A-ASAP, they’ll then react negatively and throw issue B, C, and D at you. It doesn’t matter if it was even from a while ago, people are liable to throw as much as POSSIBLE at you at this point. Again, be wary and know that your emotions (and theirs) can spread like fire if you don’t control them and also have just as much impact accordingly. Now, as a team, you must get to the underlying issue as soon as possible. Through understanding this issue and coming to an understanding, this is where a true apology comes in.
Aftershock: Recovering from the Stall.
It is after this initial understanding of getting to the issue where the item (error) is addressed and taken care of but there is a slight lingering of negativity in the air, where YOU as a person are to recover and what I define as, ‘recovering from the stall.’ At this moment, things have been addressed but the air is still heavy and you are not where you began or were maybe 15 minutes ago when you both could NOT stop laughing. Whatever you do, ensure that you let go of the negativity and IMMEDIATELY bring positive items to mind. You are the pilot of the relationship and will decide where you want to go, and if you’re still in it, you better believe you want it to start excelling and kicking ass again.
Think about your favorite joke, a great view, or something hilarious a friend of yours told you lately. Whatever you do, bring the conversation back into something fun. While the other person may find it as supplicating, or bullshit, they wouldn’t stay there and be with you (or still be throughout) if they weren’t interested. Again, there will still be an awkward phase, but do NOT feed off of this. People (at least women) are VERY much more perceptive of your emotions and body language than men, they will know you’re trying to recover and likely play along eventually (make no mistake, they will not forget your error though). It’s up to YOU to bring things back into the positive, from here they will usually throw something positive back and feed off your vibe. YOU have to be the one to lead this, again YOU are the pilot in charge of recovering the stall.
When this happens, that’s when you know you’re getting somewhere from the stall and starting to recover accordingly. In essence, you’re creating a loop of positivity and disrupting the negative, and usually, this is best done with humor. Humor is one of the BEST assets you can have and wield throughout all relationships. It is of UTMOST importance that you start to bring things back to this level of fun and lighthearted joy, etc.
Sometimes in relationships, we feel wronged and seek to hold our cards until the other person makes the first move and apologizes first. While this feels nice…. it’ll get you anywhere. People can be so stubborn and stuck in their ways, blind to the fact that things are going nowhere but simply stuck in their emotion. Take control of things when they aren’t going well, be willing to admit wrongs when necessary, and keep things moving to where you want them to be.
Photo: Flickr/ Eric Parker