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Managing Conflicts in Real Time

When engaging with your partner imagine a virtual dashboard appearing before you – this is your own private gauging system to manage your engagement with your partner.

Escalating conflict can be avoided by attending to two dials and three lights:

The first dial is literally your speed. As anger kicks in or fear kicks in, the rate of speech increases and this adds to the tension in the communication. As the intensity and risk in conversations increases, you should slow down to 40 (kph) – like it is a school zone – you can override the natural tendency to speak faster by inserting more silence and slowing the speech down.

The second dial is the volume – as anger or fear kicks in, the volume increases and this adds to the fear and/or anger in your partner – who naturally responds in kind. If you can reduce the volume and speak more softly, the tension is reduced. Again you need to override the impulse coming from your own emotions.

Then there are the warning lights – these indicate approaching danger and you should stop the direction you are going in:

1. Swear words and terms of abuse – this is a big no-no and indicates you are heading for a crash.

2. Threats and accusations.

3. The continual use of sentences beginning with “you”. It is much more effective to use “I” language as this is more likely to be helpful than sentences beginning with “you”, which are generally criticisms, accusations, judgements, and assumptions.


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