Conflict management

Conflict as defined by the English dictionary is ‘an active disagreement between people with opposing opinions or principles’. 

Conflict is a part of everyday life and many times we have to deal with internal conflict which can be as simple as deciding what to have for breakfast to more complicated decisions about finances, work and family life. So in itself conflict doesn’t have to be a bad thing but for the purposes of this course we are looking at conflict between couples and families in relation to the divorce process.

Conflict management skills are a collection of useful tools to help people use strategies to resolve their differences and many of the principles apply to the divorce process. Learning to look at things from the other person’s perspective and identifying the issues in the conflict are vital in order to resolve any type of conflict. In order for this to happen our emotions must be in check enough for us to think through other people’s perspectives and seek to find alternative solutions.

 This is why so many conflicts are never resolved, including divorce, because the emotional aspect which affect our thinking is never dealt with. Again, even way after the divorce process is finalized on paper, divorcees are left bitter and scarred from the emotional impact of divorce. So, having looked at the emotional impact in the last lesson, client’s should be better placed to deal with their emotions in order for them to behave appropriately for themselves and their children.

De- escalation skills are where you have the ability to not respond negatively to someone who is irate and remain calm and neutral with your tone of voice. If you respond in the same manner as the other person then there is really not much chance of any effective communication at that point and it would be better to walk away or end the phone conversation and recollect your thoughts and feelings before trying again. Not responding or trying to communicate should only be a very short term action unless you are in danger of severe abuse or violence in which case consideration should be given to agency support.

Conflict mapping can be used in many areas of your life to enable you to see the issues and pull them apart so you can work on each aspect individually.

The ability to communicate effectively is also important and incorporating this ability with the conflict management techniques and emotional management techniques will prepare you well for the future.

Conflict mapping is where you can map out the issues involved in the conflict so you have a visual representation of the issues involved in a conflict.

Drawing a spider diagram in the middle of a blank page for example with the word divorce in it may be a start. The more specific you can be the easier it will be to identify the issues.

So starting with divorce we can stem off from this as we think about all the things that impact as a result of divorce.  feelings, family, finances etc…as we do this we can look at how these factors affect our thoughts, feelings, actions and results.

Each aspect can then be addressed in isolation of other issues or aspects . So the initial issue of divorce may be broken down into 5-10 different areas.

In relation to finances it may be that money is tight and debt is growing. How you manage to control the feelings of despair, frustration, guilt and anger could end up in more positive action eg speaking to a financial adviser and/or planning and budgeting more effectively.

The emotional aspect of conflict

The impact of conflict on the emotions, particularly in divorce, can be huge and is one of the main reasons this course has been designed to deal specifically with divorce. We have seen how the burden of the divorce process itself is big in relation to legal fees, debt, housing and living arrangements and the welfare of the children. Keeping it all together without harbouring anger, guilt, resentment and other negative feelings and emotions is difficult but with practice and motivation it is possible to work on those feelings to and to keep them under control rather than them controlling you, especially at times when you need to make big decisions. 

Below are some strategies for dealing with conflict and having started to practice the self healing techniques in the previous lessons and having identified some recurring negative feelings from your journal you should be in a position to cope better with whatever the divorce process throws your way.