A Direct Path from Conflict to Deeper Relationship Connections A Direct Path from Conflict to Deeper Relationship Connections A Direct Path from Conflict to Deeper Relationship Connections Michele Hart Law

Date: September 22, 2022 | Author: Michele Hart

If happens to all of us.  One minute you’re having a typical conversation with someone you care about – your spouse, son or daughter, friend, or co-worker, and then suddenly your emotions start to escalate.

What you do our say next can either hurt the relationship or can actually bring you closer.

As a family law attorney for 25 years, I know that communication is essential. Resolving emotionally driven conflict comes with the territory.

I also coach clients on how best to communicate to pave the way to settlement more smoothly.

But these skills can be applied to any relationship at any time.  It’s the ability to pull out of our automatic knee-jerk emotional reactions and settle into choosing the response in that moment that’s going to build that connection for the benefit of the relationship.

According to internationally recognized family therapist, speaker, author, Terry Real, founder of the Relational Life Institute (RLI) in Arlington, MA in a recent podcast episode, we get triggered when something in our life comes close enough to what happened to us as a kid.  In that moment, Real says, the past overtakes the present in your body viscerally and you’re back there.

So, let’s say, your spouse, for example, speaks to you harshly or critically, you suddenly become a 5-year-old and your spouse transforms into your strict authoritarian parent.

In that moment, you have a choice to become the adult you.  It might be a good idea to take a short break.  Tell your spouse you feel like it might help to take a quick walk and suggest coming right back to the conversation.

Go to the bathroom. Take a walk outside. Take some breaths. Walk around.  Whatever it takes.  Just give yourself the space to process what you’re feeling.

Then, when you’re able to access the adult you, what Terry Real calls the “wise adult,” you have clarity.  You’re able to feel compassion for the other person and for yourself.

The key to deepening your connection at that moment is to be compassionate and kind, yet assertive at the same time.

For example, instead of saying to your partner “you’re never around! You’re always working!” you might try “I feel like we haven’t been spending much time together and I miss you.”

But let’s face it.  Pulling ourselves out of our knee-jerk emotional reactions and into our “wise adult” selves can be incredibly difficult.

But one way you can immediately help someone calm down from an angry tirade is to simply ask the other person to tell you more.  This shows that you’re listening to them because we all want to feel heard.

And when you start to see the incredible changes in your relationships that can happen, it can be motivating to keep practicing.  Even when you do get sucked into a particular conflict with someone, you can always clean it up and begin again.

After all, when your partner or someone close to you is unhappy, it’s to your benefit to make them happy.  But most importantly, you will have made a giant stride toward deep connection and greater understanding in your most important relationships.

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