Krisanna Jeffery
Registered Clinical Counselor, B.S.W, M.Ed

Survival Skills for Conflict 

            Couples and parents often come to counselling because of a high level of conflict in their homes. Most of us had very poor models for resolving conflict. Some of us had models who avoided  and internalized their conflicts (often hurting themselves in the process). Some of us had models who were violent and aggressive in their approach to conflict. Very few of us had models who were assertive and responsible. What role models did you have? 

            Handling conflict is a learned skill. Most of us simply haven’t learned the skills necessary to handle it in an evolved way. Until we do, there will continue to be aggression, violence, and on the largest scale, war. The same skills are necessary, whether you are a parent, partner, or a country at war. Without such skills we will always have problems with relationships.  

            In order to assess your own ability to resolve conflict, check out how often you are able to exercise the following skills during a conflict situation. Perhaps you can use the one’s you are weak at to focus your future learning . 

      Are you able to breathe and stay grounded?

      Can you recognize when you’re embroiled in a battle? Nothing gets resolved in a battle.

      Are you able to call a cease-fire? This is a time to go cool off  after you have recognized that nothing you do or say will be resourceful and can only lead to hurt.

      Are you able to solicit the other person’s agreement before starting a conflict resolution. Having the other’s cooperation is absolutely necessary to resolve a conflict. So don’t waste your time by trying to make someone deal with a conflict unless they are willing.

      Are you willing to take the risk to be vulnerable? In order for the conflict to end, someone has to take the risk to be vulnerable. Talk about feelings! Be honest! (yup, this is very hard)

      Are you able to listen to the other’s side without getting defensive? Sometimes just being quiet and other times making sure you understood what the other is feeling and thinking.

      Are you able to stay clear on your intention to resolve a conflict or do you sink into having to be right or trying to control the other person by making them see it your way?

      Do you know the difference between “resolving” a conflict and finding a “solution”? 

A common trap is to think you have to try and continue a conflict until there is a solution found. In reality, it’s probably best not to intentionally seek a solution during a conflict resolution. If a “solution” presents itself, great! Instead, try to attain “resolution”, which is simply seeing and hearing each other in great detail, with clarity and feeling. Being heard in this manner is often enough to end the conflict and allow you to work out reasonable alternatives. 

Conflicts can be used to bring you closer to someone or to create distance. We get to choose!



For more information, please contact Krisanna Jeffery
1348 Gabriola Dr. Parksville, BC
Canada V9P 2X8

Tel (250) 951-2299 between 9-5 Pacific
fax (250) 947-9920 anytime

Copyright 2003     Krisanna Jeffery