Keep the Peace using Conflict Rules

Today we have a useful step for resolving frequent conflict in family relationships. Create "rules of engagement" with your partner or family members, and make sure that the rules are clear to everyone. The next time there is a conflict, these rules are to be strictly followed.

What are some rules that we recommend?

Well, for intense emotional issues and conflicts, there are two rules that we think are non-negotiable - you can't go without them.

  • Confrontation is by appointment only. Conflicts can occur at any time, we know. However, there is a time and a place for discussing problems and issues that are bothering us (i.e., McDonalds over lunch is not one of them). All parties should agree to briefly describe the problem, then make plans for when is a good time for all to talk. This can be as simple as saying, "I'd like to talk about what happened just now. Can we speak at home?"
  • Everybody has the right to a time-out. Sometimes things get out of control when emotions like anger or fear escalate. Realize that every person has the right to feel overwhelmed, and the right to ask for a break to calm down and recollect. However, it also that person's responsibility to make clear when you will reconvene (minutes or days later).

Need more ideas about coming up with family rules? It may help to divide into a few categories: rules that keep the conversation constructive, rules to handle disruptive emotions like anger, rules to improve communication, and how-to rules for reaching solutions that please both parties.

Here are some good examples of rules that pertain to the first category - maintaining constructive conflict:

  • Confrontation by appointment only - we talked about this one. Just as a reminder, don't make an appointment to sit down and talk right before bed, work or school.  There should be enough time to both talk out the issue and mentally unwind afterward.
  • Optimal location - location has a lot to do with how constructive the confrontation is. A lot of interruptions will impede the flow of ideas, so pick a quiet place. Avoid the bedroom, which should stay associated with peace and rest. A good place to talk about issues is a calm, neutral, pleasing place. Moving while you talk can keep endorphins going at a nice pace, so a park is often a good place to go. If all else fails, phone conversations can remove a physical space that feels threatening.
  • Start on a kind foot - Show your desire for mutual respect and peace by taking their hand, offering a gift or compliment, or anything that you feel is appropriate to diminish hostility. Just don't go overboard into making it seem like a bribe! Your main objective is to show that you are opening the conversation on a sure ground by professing that you want to protect your relationship's underlying values. In short: you are saying: we want to improve the good relationship we already have...

Need help creating rules for conflict in the other categories, like reaching workplace resolutions? Visit our conflict coach today to receive a free consultation. Coach Nora can send you on your way to a healthy relationship in no time at all!

Neil Warner
Neil Warner
I'm the “relationship guru,” and my main focus is to increase the quality of love-based relationship experiences. In this ground-breaking guide I offer useful strategies on healing a difficult angry relationship with love and compassion. You don't have to stay in an unhealthy relationship one more minute. Let us share our tools with you today.


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