OW SERIES: Day 7 – Managing conflict during lockdown
Living in close confines with others is complicated. For this reason, today I would like to cover the three stages of a conflict:
- If I forget to wash my cup and leave it on the table, my wife might say: “It annoys me when you leave your dirty dishes lying around”. I understand her legitimate thinking, I apologize, and we move on. It’s a conflict centred on behaviour. You get past those by apologizing.
- If I do it again my wife will get annoyed: “Seriously? You are so selfish and messy”. I take offence even if it’s my fault. I apologize because my relationship is more important than my ego, but I still hold a grudge. It’s a conflict centred on the person and his or her characteristics. You get over it by apologizing on both sides: one for the repeated mistake and lack of listening, and the other for the clumsy wording.
- If I do it again she will get angry: “You’re not listening! What are we even doing together?”. This is a relationship-centred conflict. It’s difficult to get out of these unscathed, because both parties are very affected.
If Step 2 happens, we can still get back to what has annoyed us about the other person’s behaviour by calmly expressing how we feel. By doing this we choose to be adversaries in the moment without becoming enemies, to denounce a behaviour while respecting the person.