4 May, 2020
Surviving Families under Covid-19 Lock down #5
In previous articles we have shared ideas that can help to avoid arguments and conflict. For example:
Whatever we put in place though, conflict can still happen. This article aims to provide some approaches that can help you to deal with this safely.
Generally, conflict occurs when people want different things to each other. In families this can be as simple as a parent and child disagreeing over bed time or more complex, like partners having an argument over the family finances.
In any conflict situation the possible outcomes are:
|Win-Win||Both parties are satisfied with the outcome|
|Win-Lose||One person gets what that want at the expense of the other|
|Lose-Lose||Neither person gets what they want – this is usually ends in an argument!)|
If one person gets what they want and the other person does not this can create anger, frustration and feelings of unfairness.
The principles of negotiation explained below should be helpful in most situations and work towards a win-win situation.
If all parties are willing, negotiation can be a very effective approach to resolving arguments. It aims to find a solution that is acceptable to everyone.
Negotiation aims to find the win/win, a solution that both are willing to accept and may not be the outcome either thought they wanted in the first place. It will require both people to be willing to communicate with the other and to make compromises.
- Wait until everyone is calm and willing to talk - if one party is upset or angry it is not the best time for negotiation
- Pick your battles - ask yourself if the conflict is worth it. For example, moving a dirty plate left in the living room would take seconds. An argument about it could take much longer and create negative feelings for both people.
- Before you start a negotiation, ask yourself the following questions:
- What do I want in this situation, what is my goal?
- What are alternatives to meeting this goal?
- What do I think the other person wants in this situation?
- Be prepared to compromise - you are looking for a win/win outcome. If you focus solely on what you want from the negotiation it will most likely fail. Try and see things from the other persons perspective
- Make use of good communication skills - keep what you say short, be clear about the issue or problem and try not to blame others
- Take your time and try to be creative in finding a solution together. You can always revisit the solution at a later date to see if it was helpful
Taking time out
Negotiation needs time and everyone to be in a calm place and ready to talk to each other respectfully.
This is not how people always feel in families, sometimes they are angry or annoyed with each other and need time to cool off before they are ready to talk and work towards a solution.
The following ideas should help to enter into a negotiation in a better frame of mind:
- Try to talk quietly and calmly – focusing on this can stop a situation from escalating. If the other person is shouting try to avoid shouting back to avoid escalation
- Change the subject or distract yourself or the other person - this could be with a funny story on your social media or something mundane such as writing a shopping list
- Try to step back and look at the big picture - what are you trying to achieve? Is getting angry the best way to do this? Is there a better way?
- Take time out - walk away and take time to yourself to calm down and do something you enjoy before coming back to the issue refreshed
Hopefully these ideas are useful in helping you to resolve conflicts in your family. It is important to remember that people are far more willing to cooperate and communicate with people who are calm and respectful than those who are shouting or aggressive.
Gloucestershire Family Information Service
If you are finding it really difficult to resolve issues in the family then you can call the Gloucestershire Family Information Service who offer a FREE, impartial and confidential service to families and are available Mon – Fri, 9am – 8pm and on Saturdays 10am – 6pm.
Here's how to contact them:
- Call FREE on 0800 542 02 02. If they can’t answer straight away, leave a message and they will call you back
- Email at firstname.lastname@example.org and they will respond to you the same working day
- Find them on Facebook and leave them a message
Worried about violence and abuse at home?
If you are worried about your own or other's safety in the home you can call:
24-hour National Domestic Violence Helpline 0808 2000 247
or 999 if you are in immediate danger.
If it isn't safe to speak wait for the prompts and dial 55 when asked by the operator.