We all have conflict in our relationships, there is just no escaping it – the trick is to manage the conflict within your relationship in a way that you both walk out of it feeling respected and heard – notice that I did not say that you should walk out of it feeling like you have convinced your partner that you are right and they are wrong!
One of the biggest mistakes most people make in their interpersonal relationships is trying to ‘win’ disagreements and arguments by trying to convince people to agree with them instead of giving a bit to get a bit. As they say in the martial art Aikido, sometimes you need to yield to win. The strangest thing, often when you concede even a bit, you often end up getting more of what you want –otherwise as the saying goes, you win the battle, but lose the war.
What do the experts say?
Relationship expert Dr. John Gottman says that letting your partner influence you is one of the 7 principles to making marriage work. Dr. Gottman’s research shows that power sharing and accepting influence are vital components in managing conflict and strengthening your relationship.
When we take the time to try to understand the other person’s perspective and let them feel heard they are more likely to do the same. Not only does this cut back on the conflict, it provides couples with the opportunity to work together and problem solve as a team. Win/win!
What Happens When We Accept Influence From Our Partners?
When there is a conflict in the relationship and one of the partners does not feel heard or respected this can lead to a break down in communication. When partners accept influence from each other they are setting the groundwork for a more collaborative and rewarding relationship. As my husband so wisely says, you catch more bees with honey- so true!
So next time you find yourself in a conflict with your partner, try to resist the urge to ‘win’ and instead try to hear what your partner has to say and accept their influence. You will be amazed at how it will not only stop the conflict but also strengthen your relationship.
Jody Watson is a Registered Clinical Counsellor who specializes in helping couples with their relationship and working with new parents and children.