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Ugh, You make me Sick! The Key to Managing Family Conflict

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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