Stop a moment and think about your last argument; what was it about? Was it over something seemingly ridiculous or was it over something huge?
Chances are both you and the other party are guilty of contributing to the issue. Sure, maybe one person is genuinely more responsible, but what can you do to contribute to making peace? What’s in your control? I’ve found there are four things we can do to resolve conflict: take part in face-to-face confrontation, make genuine apologies, recognize that little tiffs always lead to bigger issues, and learn to let things go.
Most people hate true confrontation. We can easily bash people on Facebook, send scathing texts, or chew someone out on the phone, but it’s extremely difficult for us to make amends in person. This inability is one of the contributing factors to why we’re bad at conflict resolution.
We have never learned to really face people. We have to be unafraid to hash things out face to face and put everything on the table instead of beating around the bush or going through some other indirect media. It’s a sign we actually value the person and that the relationship is something real to us; it conveys sincerity.
Insincere apologies are another huge pet peeve of mine, as well as something I’m often guilty of. How many times have you felt the worthless sting of the “I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings,” excuse, and how many times have you dished it out yourself? When I get that response, I feel as if the other person has completely deflected the blame from him to me, as if I’m the one who’s wrong for feeling hurt by whatever he did. When I say it myself, I know deep down it’s just a way for me to shift my guilt in my moment of anger and denial.
Sitting down, looking someone in the eyes and saying, “I’m sorry, will you forgive me?” with no strings attached is the best way to relieve animosity and start a clean slate. Don’t let yourself be walked over if this is always happening, but in my relationships this tactic has been extremely effective.
Neglecting and failing to resolve the little arguments is another fuel for on-going tension in relationships. For example, my boyfriend and I are both extremely competitive. Many times, one of us will make belittling excuses about why we didn’t win, and in turn, this makes the other feel like we didn’t earn the victory. It seems like a trivial issue, but there’s a bigger underlying issue: pride.
Unhealthy pride can destroy a relationship, and if we don’t take care of the seemingly silly issues as they come, the tension will continue to build up. They’ll eventually come to a boiling point where there’s too much bottled up anger to effectively deal with the problem.
Human tendency is to hold grudges. Ultimately, holding grudges inhibits healing in a relationship and even if sorry is said, the grudge holder will still not be at peace. Though we don’t need to completely forget the pain someone may have caused us, there is a point where we must move on.
Relationships can have their rocky moments, but arguments aren’t a totally bad thing. If we look at them as opportunities for growth and a better understanding of what’s needed in a relationship, we can become more effective communicators and have happier relationships. It all starts with an open mind and a genuine apology.