This relates to and extrapolates on our last post about listening to the need behind the criticism.
For this post I wanted to talk about how building intimacy and friendship are the keys to conflict resolution.
The reason conflict can be so difficult and destroy partnerships is because one or both of the people have become disengaged.
You should be playing on the same team...but what do teams do?
Practice includes: Building an Emotional Bank Account
-Having a 5:1 Ratio of Positive to Negative interactions: John Gottman coined this idea. Unfortunately for us, negative interactions can have a powerful effect on us, much more than positive. The key is to overload the relationship with positive interactions so that when the negatives come along it's not out of balance and the relationship is kept stable. Fostering the positives can look like the following:
-Responding to Bids: Learning to see the other person's actions as bids for love, attention, affection, to be heard...and then responding to them instead of ignoring them or getting angry.
-Looking beyond the Criticism or Judgement and finding the need: Our last post talks all about this idea.
-Listening to your partners Negative Emotions; Allowing your partner to vent and express their negative emotions while listening and comforting.
-Expressing Gratitude: It's easy to get tunnel vision or "grass is greener" syndrome. Expressing Gratitude for what you have instead of Resentment for what's missing.
-Taking Obvious Pleasure in Your Partners Happiness: Supporting and enabling the other to pursue what makes them come alive, what makes them happy, and expressing the joy that brings you.
-Having Fun Together: This might be obvious, but creating new memories and fun adventures with one another is very bonding.
-Using Upward Conversational Statements Instead of Downward: This is an interesting one. When you're in conversation with your partner and you want to add something to what they said it's better to use the upward language of, "Yeah, and..." instead of the downward language of, "Yeah, but..."
These are just a few ideas to get you thinking about how you're insulating your relationship.
When the cold winds come through will the insulation be able to withstand it?
These ideas need to be implemented daily in order for trust, intimacy and friendship to build.
Then, when conflict comes, you look at the other person as your teammate, the one you've been practicing with everyday, the person whom you love and adore, the person that has shared intimacy and emotion with you.
You must be in tune with your partner everyday and tackle conflicts together, not trying to solve them, but expressing the needs, desires and hopes behind them.
When conflict comes...
Take a deep breath.
Look for the need.
Take a break if your fight or flight responses are on the tongue.
Use "yeah, and..." statements.
Express your needs.
Remember this is your teammate, your partner.
They aren't out to get you.
They just might need something.
They just might be triggered by something.
Your patience and listening ear means everything to them.
Remind them that you care, especially in the midst of conflict.
Remind them that you want to hear their need.
Remind them that you are committed to the process.
When all is said and done, do something enjoyable together.