Death, addiction, financial difficulties, mental illness, separation/divorce, and transitional adjustments all have an impact on family members. Problems may be difficult to resolve during stressful events or when the family’s resources are severely taxed. This can result in acrimonious disagreements, tension, and resentment. Conflict in the family can have an impact on everyone’s ability to function. Learn effective problem-solving skills to deal with family issues.
Developing Healthy Problem-Solving
1. Set aside some time to talk as a group. It may appear that dealing with and overcoming family problems is impossible. However, when you work together, resolving family conflicts becomes more feasible. The first step toward resolution is admitting that a problem exists in the first place. After tempers have moderately cooled, everyone must plan to come together and devise a strategy to solve the problem.
Plan a meeting for a time that is convenient for everyone. Make everyone aware of the meeting’s purpose and that you expect them to arrive prepared with suggestions and solutions.
Keep in mind that young children can be a hindrance to a family gathering. If you expect tempers to flare or sensitive information to be discussed, put them in a separate room.
Regular family meetings are frequently recommended by therapists. This strategy allows family members to address issues before they become resentful. Talking with your family on a regular basis can help to improve communication and the bond you share.
2. Concentrate on the problem at hand. When people disagree, they tend to bring up any and all unresolved issues they have ever had with the other parties. This impedes conflict resolution and distorts the discussion’s focus.
Make an effort to discover what is significant about the current issue. Building a case or bringing up old wrongdoings will not help you resolve this issue.
3. Allow everyone to say what they truly mean. Effective conflict resolution requires direct communication. Each party should use “I” statements to express their needs, desires, and concerns.
Remember that your goal is to de-escalate the situation and work toward a resolution. The use of “I” statements allows everyone to express themselves while also showing respect for those who are listening. Making a “I” statement allows each person to take ownership of their feelings while also suggesting a solution to the problem.
“I am concerned that our family is disintegrating,” for example, is an example of a “I” statement. I’d like for us to work things out.” or “I’m afraid when Dad drinks a lot because he starts yelling.” I wish he’d stop drinking.”
4. Without interrupting, listen. Listening is essential for reaching an agreement during a family conflict. Only by actively listening to each party will you be able to understand what he is trying to say. Active listening entails picking up on the other person’s tone and body language, allowing him to speak without interruptions or comments, and then paraphrasing what was said to ensure you understood correctly.
Effective listening makes the other person feel heard, motivates the other parties to listen to you, defuses arguments and strong emotions, and rebuilds the relationship during the conflict.
5. Validate and respect each individual’s point of view. Validation is the act of demonstrating to another that you recognise, value, and accept his or her thoughts, opinions, or beliefs. Of course, your views may differ greatly, but using validation shows that you regard the other as a human being deserving of integrity and respect.
Validate your family members by saying something like, “I’m glad you felt comfortable enough to share this with me,” or “I appreciate your willingness to work toward a solution.”
6. Come to an agreement on a solution as a group. After everyone has shared their wants, needs, and concerns, try to find a middle ground. Consider all of the suggestions made by each party and try to find a happy medium. Everyone in attendance should be pleased with the proposed solution. Create a contract or written agreement outlining how you will handle the problem if necessary.
7. Seek professional assistance. If you are unable to resolve the issue on your own, seek the advice of a family therapist who can provide you with practical advice on how to manage your family’s problem.
Recognizing Communication Roadblocks
1. Be mindful of how various family members may react to problems. Differences in how each family member responds to stress or tension can be an impediment to conflict resolution. These differences must be considered, and everyone must consciously choose to confront the issue in order to truly find a solution.
Conflict causes some people to become hostile and defensive. This is the physiological “fight or flight” response. These people may argue incessantly to absolve themselves of responsibility, or they may refuse to listen to the perspectives of others.
Others rely on the “flight” factor. These people may avoid conflict at all costs. They may deny that there is a problem or believe that there is nothing they can do to solve it. Such family members may act as if they are unaware of any tension in the home, or they may minimise its impact on them.
2. Recognize, but keep emotions in check. Recognizing the unique experience of yourself and others requires emotional awareness. If you can’t identify how you feel, you won’t be able to control your emotions or express your needs during a conflict.
Begin by attempting to identify your emotions. Consider your thoughts, how you feel in your body, and what actions you want to take. For example, you may be thinking, “I despise this family.” You have your fists clenched and are ready to punch something. Anger or contempt could be used to describe such a strong emotion.
Next, work on controlling and calming these strong emotions so that you can problem-solve effectively. Participate in a complementary activity to alleviate your discomfort, depending on how you’re feeling. For example, if you are feeling down, you may want to watch a funny movie. If you are angry, you may find it beneficial to vent to a friend or engage in vigorous physical activity.
3. Refrain from pointing the finger. Accusing someone of being the source of the problem will only make the person defensive, impeding a productive exchange. Always try to attack the problem rather than the person. You can love, honour, and respect someone without agreeing with everything he does. However, if you blame your loved one for the problem, progressing beyond this point will be difficult.
Using “I” statements is one of the most effective strategies for reducing blame and subsequent defensiveness. Instead of saying, “I’m afraid your addiction will cause someone to get hurt,” say, “I’m afraid your addiction will cause someone to get hurt.”
Creative Commons License