Six Easy Steps for Resolving Conflict



*Let go of anger generated by trivial issues.

*Deal with small but significant issues when they happen.

*Be assertive; if it’s important to you, it’s worthy of discussion.

*Deal with big issues as soon as possible, preferably when you’re both prepared to deal with them.

*Know what you’re fighting about. Be specific, limited and direct with your complaint.

*Bring up one thing at a time.

*Pick a good time for you both. Make and keep an appointment if necessary.

*Take some deep breaths, and try to be calm.


*Giving “the silent treatment”.

*Bringing up an issue at a time embarrassing to the other person.

*Gunny sacking – saving up little hurts and hostilities, then dumping them all at once.



*Use “I” statements (“I’m frustrated about…”).

*Choose your words carefully.

*Be specific and concise (one or two sentences at a time).

*Say what you really mean.

*Stay in the present; use current examples.

*Deal the person’s behavior, not personality.


* Generalizing – “You never…” or “I’m always…”

* Labeling, name caIling, character assassination.

* Mind reading – telling the other person what they’re thinking and feeling.

* Dwelling on past grievances.

* Blaming the other person for your problem.

* Hitting below the belt– purposely calling attention to known weaknesses or areas of sensitivity.

* Exaggerating – overreacting to a situation or making idle threats or ultimatums.



*Take your time to listen.

*Empathize—think about the other person’s message, what they may be feeling etc.

*Paraphrase, or ask for clarification.

*Attend with your body language, eye contact etc.


*Preparing your “defense” in advance.

*Treating your conversation like a competition.



*Take your time–count to 10, or more.

*Try not to take the other person’s statements personally.

*Be sensitive. Avoid fighting back when the other person is just letting off steam.

*Check out the other person’s feelings and thoughts.

*Use “I” statements; “When I hear…..I feel…….”.

*Take responsibility for your actions, and don’t be afraid to say “I was wrong”.

*Take a time-out if you need to collect your thoughts.


*Making assumptions.

*Cross complaining: responding to the person’s complaint with one of your own.

*Ignoring the person.

*Belittling the person, or their concerns.



*Try to determine, what the particular problem or issue is.

*Try to solve the problem together.

*See if there is a way for each of you to get something you need/want.

*Keep to the subject. Try to resolve one issue before moving to another.

*Realize that not all problems will be solved in a day; it may take time.

*Consider the value of maintaining your relationship, during all discussions.


*Holding a position, or setting an ultimatum “it’s my way or the highway”.

*Walking out, name calling, generalizing etc.

*Presenting non-negotiable demands.

*Overwhelming each other with a list of concerns.

*Thinking the other person must lose if you are to win (and vice-versa).



*Call a foul when you feel a communication guideline has been broken.

*Be ready to forgive, or let some things go.

*If the fight isn’t resolved right now, make an appointment to finish it later.

*Allow for interim or temporary solutions.

*If the fight is resolved, try to finish with an expression of positive feelings that you’ve worked together successfully.

*Have a safety valve for excess emotion: jogging, biking, listening to music, etc.


*Breaking previous agreements.

*Continuing with repetitious, stale arguments with no progress being made toward resolution.

*Pretending to go along, or to agree when you really don’t.

*Withholding affections, or shutting down.


About victoriacounsellor

A former counsellor, with an M.A. in Psychology and over 20 years in the field, I continue to be fascinated with human nature. This blog endeavours to share positive observations and stories on "keeping it real", finding balance in life, and striving for personal transformation.
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