10 Steps to a Successful Outcome

Val Baldwin, CPC
Live Your Ultimate Life

Everybody experiences conflict with the ones they love. Let’s face it, if you have a pulse…you’re going to disagree at times. And that’s really OK. What most people don’t realize is that it’s not usually the conflict itself that tears people apart, but how you resolve it and the feelings you have towards each other AFTER the conflict that really has the biggest effect on your relationship. As a professional speaker, trainer and Life Success Coach, not only have I seen what a poisonous effect unresolved conflict can have in couples lives but I’ve witnessed the counter-productive effect it has in corporations and organizations as well. These same valuable couple conflict tools can be used in all areas of your life to produce a happier, less stressed out, more fulfilled you.

Let me first share with you two critical concepts you must put into practice if you want those difficult discussions to end in a positive manner. One proven secret to resolving conflict peacefully is how you approach your startup. Research finds that discussions invariably end on the same note they began. If you start an argument harshly – meaning you attack your partner verbally – you’ll end up with at least as much tension as you began. But if you use a softened startup such as: you maturely voice your complaint about a specific behavior you wish were different instead of attacking your partner’s character or personality, you are polite by saying “please” and “I would appreciate”, you are crystal clear on what is actually bothering you, you verbalize your appreciation for times when things were handled better and you speak showing respect – the discussion is likely to be more productive. So remember, if you go straight for the jugular, you’re going to draw blood and get nowhere. If you start softly, you are more likely to resolve the conflict and have a happier and healthier relationship.

The second critical concept for coping effectively with conflict is communicating basic acceptance of your partner’s personality. Human nature dictates that it is virtually impossible to accept advice from someone unless you feel that person understands you. So the bottom-line rule is before you ask your partner to change the way he or she drives, eats or completes chores around the house, you must make your partner feel that you are understanding of their point of view. If either (or both) of you feels judged, misunderstood, or rejected by the other, you will not be able to manage the problems in your relationship. Put these two key concepts into daily practice when those sensitive subjects come up and I promise they will go much smoother.

When you’ve decided the conflict has gone on long enough and it’s time to work things out, this 10-step plan from my training with Life Innovations, Inc is an amazing tool. Use it faithfully and I will guarantee a positive outcome for you both.

  1. Set a time and place for discussion. Allow at least 30 minutes. Plan a time when you are free of distractions and interruptions. No kids, no TV, just the two of you. Some positive suggestions for your couples meeting could be at a restaurant for dinner, relaxing in front of the fire at home or go to bed and hour early to discuss your issues while you are all cozy and curled up in bed. Take the time to write your answers down so you are both clear and there is no misunderstanding.

  2. Select one important issue you would like to resolve. Write down the specific issue or problem for discussion. You may be surprised to find that your partner has a different view of what the actual issue is.

  3. How do you each contribute to the problem? Without blaming each other, list the things you each do that have not helped to resolve the problem.

  4. List past attempts to resolve the issue that were not successful. As humans we try the same approach over and over thinking our partner will finally “get it” this next time. Stop it! We end up beating our heads against a wall. Past attempts haven’t worked so try something brand new.

  5. Brainstorm. List all possible solutions. Pool your new ideas and try to come up with five possible solutions to the problem. Do not judge or criticize any of the suggestions at this point. There are no dumb ideas. Think outside the box.

  6. Discuss and evaluate these possible solutions. Be as objective as you can. Talk about how useful and appropriate each suggestion might be for resolving your issues.

  7. After you have both expressed your feelings, select one solution that you both agree to try. Put it in writing and post your trial solution with a detailed description so you both can be reminded daily.

  8. Agree on how each individual will work toward this solution. Be as specific as possible and write down each of your detailed responsibilities to solve the issue. To simply commit to “trying harder” is not good enough.

  9. Set up another meeting. Set a place, date and time within the next week for another meeting to discuss your progress.

  10. Reward each other as you each contribute toward the solution. Pay attention to each other as the week passes. If you notice your partner making a positive contribution toward the solution, praise his/her effort.

FUTURE WEEKLY MEETINGS: At your next weekly meeting, if you have not improved, go through steps 5-8 and try a different solution. If you have shown improvement, use this exercise to overcome other problems. Make couple meetings a regular part of your weekly schedule. They can really make a positive difference!

Always remember that the key to resolving conflict is to show respect, understanding and a commitment to finding win-win solutions for you both. A happy, healthy partnership is all about cooperation and compromise. It’s not a competition. Follow these highly effective steps and you won’t ever have to be afraid to discuss those “tough topics” again.

© Copyright, 2005, Val Baldwin,

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