7 Ground Rules for Conflict Resolution by Charlotte A. Michie
There is no such thing as a conflict free relationship. Some people have the mistaken belief that a happy
partnership or marriage should be no arguing, fighting, or conflict of any kind if they really loved each other. Of
course, that is a formula for disaster. The word argument comes from the Latin arguere, to make clear. Is that not
what each partner’s intention is, to make clear his or her position? Listed below are guidelines to assist you in
making yourself clear without making matters worse.
1. Identify the problem situation and make an appointment with your partner/spouse to discuss it.
2. Limit the discussion to only the issue that is adversely affecting your relationship right now. Do not talk
about other issues or bring up past behaviors that you believe strengthens your case. Agree to take a time out if
responses on either part become punitive in nature. If either party calls a time out, the other will agree rather
than “push back”.
3. Invite your partner/spouse to talk without interruption and request the same courtesy for yourself.
4. Start your discussion by stating three things your partner/spouse has done right. Then tell your partner/spouse
the behavior(s) that have created a problem for you.
5. Avoid your partner/spouse’s vulnerabilities or emotional sensitivities. This means no hitting below the
6. Talk with each other from a position of mutual respect. Your discussion should include:
a. My feelings and needs,
b. Your feelings and needs,
c. The reality factors in the situation.
7. Remind yourself and your partner/spouse that the goal of the discussion is resolution and it is an opportunity
to create a better situation for both of you. Engage your partner/spouse in a discussion of creative solutions and
alternatives that would meet both of your needs.
For more information visit my website at www.camichie.com
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