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Last Updated on December 8, 2020

How To Resolve Relationship Conflicts without Hurting Each Other

How To Resolve Relationship Conflicts without Hurting Each Other

Relationship conflict affects even the happiest couples. But how do you resolve an argument when you just can’t seem to agree?

It can feel overwhelming and downright frustrating when you feel like your partner isn’t listening to you. Many couples make the mistake of trying to talk over each other instead of talking to each other during relationship conflict.

But real communication isn’t about who can yell the loudest or who can take pot-shots at the other. It’s about resolving an issue at hand.

  • What causes relationship conflict?
  • How do you handle conflict in a relationship?

How you handle a disagreement says a lot about how you feel about your partner. That’s why we’re looking at 9 respectful ways you can resolve relationship conflict without causing a rift between you and your spouse.

1. Don’t Yell – Communicate

Communication is the cornerstone of healthy, successful relationships.

Partners who communicate with one another build a sense of trust. They understand how the other one thinks and feels and knows what triggers to avoid.

Communicate with your partner regularly – especially if you’re disagreeing.

When things get heated, it can be difficult to keep your cool. If you want to resolve relationship conflict without hurting your partner, avoid yelling and name-calling.

Speak to solve by asking questions such as:

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  • Who are you angry with?
  • What is at the root of the problem?
  • How can you resolve the conflict?
  • How can you prevent this issue from coming up again in the future?

2. Learn to Listen

Listening is just as important as talking when it comes to conflict resolution.

You show your partner dignity when you hear what they have to say. It would also be wise to stay quiet and patient as your spouse expresses their feelings.

You can also resolve relationship conflict respectfully by avoiding distractions.

Maintain eye contact as you talk, and eliminate distractions such as the television, radio, or phone.

3. Choose the Right Time to Bring up Differences

If you have an issue you want to set right with your spouse, it’s important to choose the right time to bring it up.

Problem-solving will go smoothly if your spouse is alert and in a good mood.

But bringing up a subject that could lead to an argument would not be wise if they are cranky, tired, stressed out, hungry, or distracted.

4. Watch Your Tone

Do you understand your tone of voice?

We may think we are saying something in a mild manner to our spouse only to have them burst into tears, convinced that we are yelling at them.

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If you want to resolve relationship conflict without hurting your partner, avoid using sarcasm or belittling tones.

Arguing over text is a sure-fire way to be misunderstood by your partner. Your spouse is left guessing what tone you’re speaking to them with.

If you feel that you’re being misunderstood via text message, call your spouse and clear things up immediately.

5. Show Respect

When things get heated, you may resort to some disrespectful speech or actions that you normally wouldn’t.

Disrespecting your partner is one of the worst things you can do during an argument.

You can resolve relationship conflict without hurting your spouse by taking a minute to cool down. Conflict resolution isn’t about seeing who can yell the loudest or opening old wounds to make your partner submit. It’s about solving a problem.

Show respect to your partner during disagreements by:

  • Sticking to the topic at hand
  • Taking your partner’s opinions seriously
  • Not interrupting your spouse
  • Listening patiently
  • Letting cooler heads prevail

6. Remember That You Love Each Other

We tend to get carried away when we are upset, but it’s important to remember that the person you are arguing with is also the love of your life.

Not even the happiest couples agree on every matter. It’s okay to have disagreements once in a while so long as you treat each other with love and respect when you do.

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Don’t sleep on an argument.

You never know what tomorrow will bring, so why not makeup and give yourselves a peaceful night’s sleep?

7. Have Empathy

Misunderstandings turn into arguments when couples don’t understand where the other person is coming from. That is where empathy comes into play.

Empathy is the ability to understand someone else’s feelings.

When you have empathy for your spouse you’re able to put yourself in their shoes and see things from their perspective.

Having empathy is essential to resolving relationship conflict peacefully. When you empathize with your spouse, you are giving them your attention, bridging the divide in your argument, and promoting compassion.

8. Agree to Disagree

Whether it’s about politics, religion, or family, there are going to be some occasions where you and your partner simply can’t agree.

In these situations, it’s best to agree to disagree. This means that you both accept that neither will change the other’s mind on a matter.

So long as the matter at hand is not pressing and will not negatively impact your family dynamics, such as poor financial decisions or issues involving, simply agree to disagree and move on.

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9. Learn to Forgive

One way you can avoid hurting your spouse’s feelings during relationship conflict is by learning how to forgive them.

It’s easy to say you forgive someone, but forgiveness is more than your words.

You show you forgive someone when you let the matter drop – not using it as leverage in a future argument.

True forgiveness means letting go of the anger you feel and treating your partner with love and respect after the argument is over.

Final Thoughts

Learning how to communicate is essential for couples who want to solve relationship conflict without hurting each other’s feelings.

The keys to great communication are learning to listen, staying respectful, trying to see a situation from your partner’s perspective, and forgiving each other. These tips will help you resolve your issues without starting a war.

More Tips on Resolving Relationship Conflicts

Featured photo credit: Joe Yates via unsplash.com

More by this author

Sylvia Smith

Sylvia is a big believer in living consciously and encourages couples to adopt its principles in their relationships.

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

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