Reactive vs. Responsive: How We Deal with Relationship Conflict

13 Mar, 2017


How We Deal with Relationship Conflict


Two people can’t be expected to agree on absolutely everything, all the time. In fact, conflict is a normal and necessary component of any healthy relationship.

People often disagree over things that seem trivial: ideas, desires, motivations, values and perceptions. When conflict triggers strong feelings, differing personal needs are usually the root of the problem.

Instead of avoiding conflict, learning how to properly deal with it is crucial in developing a strong, lasting bond with the other person.


Reduce tension appropriately

When facing conflict, it’s important to remain calm, non-defensive and respectful. It helps to pay attention to your own emotions, so you can determine how they may factor into your decision-making.

Studies show that moments of joy help people surmount adversity. You can try using a humorous approach to say things that might otherwise come off as offensive. Just be sure to laugh with them—not at them.


Be willing to agree to disagree

Since conflict is unavoidable, it’s important to pick your battles. From the start, you should seek compromise and avoid imposing any pre-meditated punishment.

Be aware and respectful of the differences others are bound to possess. Besides, differences are what make a relationship fun and worthwhile! Know when to let someone go if the chemistry is undoubtedly unfit.


Prioritize understanding, not “winning” or “being right”

The capacity to recognize and respond to the things that matter to the other person is integral to a healthy relationship. When you respect your partner’s viewpoint, a lot of fighting can be avoided.

When you prioritize understanding the other person’s feelings over “winning,” you can avoid any issues that may have otherwise gone unresolved.


Pay attention to the other person’s emotions

In order to efficiently solve conflict, it’s helpful to focus your attention beyond what is said. Instead, you should listen for what is felt. A person’s tone can give a lot of context about their internal emotions.

Most importantly, when you understand someone’s emotions, you can use empathy as a tool to make things right and mend any broken relationships.


Stay focused on the present

In the midst of conflict, be sure to stay focused on the issue at hand. Facing an issue head-on is usually the best option for both sides, and allows for more control of emotions and behavior.

Let go of any resentment and be willing to forgive and forget. Not only do you owe it to the other person, but you also owe it to yourself. Leaving your conflicts in the past can take a hefty weight off your shoulders, and allow you to focus on the things that matter.


To sum up, conflict is an unavoidable element that can make or break any relationship. By handling conflict in a healthy way, you can make your relationship stronger and more resilient than ever.