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  • Blog 8 picFamily conflict is a disagreement between one or more persons within a family unit. This type of conflict can occur between siblings, parents, parents/children, etc.  A little conflict between loved ones is not totally bad.  Conflict can bring along understanding and open the door for much needed conversations.  It is only when conflict goes unresolved that it becomes damaging to oneself and those around them.

    Family conflicts can result from something small as a parent asking a child to perform their chores to something larger like divorce.  Other family conflicts may consist of jealously between siblings, death of a family member, loss of a job, disagreements over money, etc.  Conflict within the family may become difficult and raise many emotions and tensions.   Not all conflict is handled the same way. Every person handles and deals with conflict in a very different way. For example, a spouse that lost a job may take the frustration out on a family member instead of using the energy to find another job opportunity.  Whereas another, might not bring the conflict into the family but instead experience inner conflict.  For most of us, family is our number one priority. The question becomes how does one deal with family conflict to ensure it is handled properly and does not end up unresolved or escalating with damaging results?

    There are several ways to mitigate family conflict.  The following are five of ten tips Pattie Porter discusses during her segment on the Texas Conflict Blog Talk Radio entitled Top 10 List…Strategies for Constructive Conflict Engagement:

    1- Be prepared – reflect on what you might do that triggers the other person

    2- Check your attitude- have an open mind

    3- Start on the right foot- approach the family member with an invitation to talk. This allows the person to prepare for the conversation

    4- Set Boundaries-set ground rules before having the conversation

    5- Listen Deeply – focus fully on what person is saying. Do not add your own commentary therefore dismissing their experiences

    It is my hope that these tips along with others can help you with your family conflict.

    By Yvette Watson Jenkins

    Graduate Student, University of Baltimore – Negotiation and Conflict Management Program

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  • When parties are involved in conflict knowledge is power. You may ask, what do I mean by that? By being aware of the various resources and tools that are available, I am better equip to navigate through the conflict process. In my previous blog, Conflict is an Opportunity I addressed the three stages of conflict: before, during, and after. I discussed a conflict that I had with a colleague regarding an e-mail correspondence that was not received well. Although it was resolved, what would have happened if it did not reach a resolution? What if we started harboring resentment and acting out our frustrations? Perhaps the other party goes to human resources and complains that now they are in a hostile work environment and the conflict escalates from there.You have options

    An option to prevent this negative conflict spiral is to try Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). ADR offers various techniques for resolving conflict outside of legal action. A form of ADR that may be appropriate for my e-mail dispute is mediation. The mediation process involves two or more parties, who meet with a third party that has no stake in the outcome of the mediation. They are neutral or impartial to the conflict.  During the mediation process, the mediator is overseeing the conversation between myself and my co-worker to enable us to better communicate, understand one another, and help us identify our interests and options for resolving the dispute.

    There are various resources available to try mediation. Some organizations have mediation programs to mediate workplace conflicts, and some communities have community mediation centers that offer mediation to local residents. You may also locate a private practitioner by using this search directory.

    If you are interested in trying mediation or are curious about what questions to  ask a potential mediator listen to the Texas Conflict Coach® podcast by Louise Phipps Senft from Louise Phipps Senft and Associates, and founder of the Baltimore Mediation Center.  You may also listen to the podcast by Cordell Wesselink. Wesselink is the ADR Programs Director from Community Boards, the oldest community mediation center in the country.  If you have an unresolved conflict that is festering, I encourage you to try ADR.

    By Tracy Culbreath

    Graduate Student, University of Baltimore – Negotiation and Conflict Management Program

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  • Family_In_CarSummer is FINALLY here! The kids are out of school. Aren’t you itching to plan a family vacation? This means more bonding time with kids, in-laws, parents, cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. (Yay!). Spending numerous hours day-end-and-day out your extended family can be quite overwhelming. I will share a story of a husband and wife vacationing at a beach house with their in-laws, spouse’s siblings, and their children followed by tips on how to confront a family member before the conflict escalates.

    The Beach House Drama

    Imagine you and your spouse are asked to spend a free week, all expenses paid vacation, at a beach house for a week with your in-laws and spouses siblings, and their kids. Weeks leading up to the vacation the only thing you can think about is catching up on some lost sleep and relaxing on the sand reading a book. The first day was amazing – you woke up at 10AM and lounged at the beach for most of the day. Later that evening, you bonded with the kids and in-laws. At 7AM the following morning, you are woken by your mother-in-law playing a yoga video. Not letting it ruffle your feathers, you get yourself back to sleep. On the third day, the same video wakes you up at 7AM. Fed up, you confide in your spouse about the noise asking, why does she have to do yoga at 7am? Your spouse says deal with it and go back to sleep. Not wanting to ruin the last few days arguing with your spouse or holding a grudge against your mother-in-law, you decide to confront her.

    Having the Difficult Conversationfamily drama blog

    When confronting a family member it is important to enter the conversation with a clear, open mind and be willing to listen and possibly compromise. In the book, Difficult Conversations the authors attribute delivering a difficult message to “throwing a hand grenade.” No matter how it’s delivered it will cause damage (Stone, D., Patton, B., & Heen, S. ,1999). The authors advise us to:

    • Understand what has happened from the other person’s point of view (perhaps the mother-in-law didn’t know she was disturbing the whole house)
    • Explain your point of view (you are on vacation to sleep in and do not want to wake up at 7AM to loud noises)
    • Share your feelings (being woken up out of sleep makes you grouchy all day)
    • Work together to figure out a way to manage the problem going forward (choose a different workout time, turn the TV down, close the bedroom door, do yoga with your mother-in –law)

    Being understanding and open will hopefully allow both parties to see each other’s point of view and soften the blow of the grenade. However, you spend your summer do not let family conflict get in the way of a great time! Be open to having that difficult conversation.

    By Yvette Watson Jenkins

    Graduate Student, University of Baltimore – Negotiation and Conflict Management Program

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Welcome to Texas Conflict Coach®. I am your host Pattie Porter, conflict resolution expert, mediator, conflict coach, facilitator and speaker. - Read More

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