5224 Olympic Drive, Suite 109, Gig Harbor, WA 98335| (253) 525-2424

Tips for Communication and Conflict Resolution


Hi everyone. I’m Kayla and the Millennial Therapist and owner of Reclaiming Stories Therapy and today I’m going to be talking to you about tips for communication and conflict resolution. Let’s get into it. So all of these tips, I’m going to be sharing with you, which again, I have notes in front of me like I normally do. Um, but these are also known as the fair fighting rules that I will sometimes give to couples to talk about the different ways that we can communicate with each other and the different ways that we should be communicating while we are in conflict. So let’s get started.

Tip number one is before you begin, really ask yourself, what am I feeling and why am I upset? So oftentimes there is something that will happen, like our partner, not unloading the dishwasher, like we asked them to. And instead of focusing on the feelings that we’re feeling inside, we have a conversation around why the dishwasher wasn’t unloaded. So really taking a pause first and understanding what am I feeling? Am I feeling hurt, frustrated, anger, sad. Um, am I feeling unloved, unheard, unappreciated, all those things, and having conversations around that instead of the dishwasher.

Next tip, um, discuss one issue at a time. So oftentimes we throw in every single thing under the sun that we ever fought about in our relationship. Um, and the conversation starts getting off of what you were feeling in the moment to what you’re feeling last week, last month, last year, 10 years ago, um, instead of really focusing on the issue at hand. So really trying your best to focus on one thing at a time and resolving one thing at a time, instead of throwing everything into the conversation, um, that you ever would have fought about.

Um, next one is no degrading language. So no calling each other names, no kind of putting the other person down, no swearing or, um, just being cruel for no reason other than to hurt your partner. Um, because all that does is what I just said. It just hurts your partner. Um, and really when you’re trying to have a constructive dialogue, even in conflict, you want your partner to understand your point of view and if you’re talking to them like that, they’re never going to understand, they’re just going to shut down. Um, and it erodes away, the trust in your relationship too. That, if your partner, even if that’s like, “Well, that’s our dynamic, like we know we don’t mean it.” It still is really hurtful to hear those words and, um, you know, if it’s something that you wouldn’t want to hear, I doubt your partner’s gonna want to hear that either. So as much as possible, I try to get couples to understand that we have to have a basis, basis of respect for one another. Um, and to hold that love for each other in the space of also conflict, because it’s going to be hard for both of you. So really knowing that this conversation is hard on both sides and trying to understand the other person’s perspective instead of throwing daggers at them.

Um, the next one is express your feelings in words and take responsibility for them. So this is a really good one to pair with ‘I’ statements. And that is a formula of a statement that starts with the letter and word I, um, and is followed by an actual feeling word. So I feel sad or I guess it starts with, I feel not just, I, I feel sad, scared, hurt, vulnerable, um, whatever feeling is coming up for you putting that into that slot. Um, and then you can kind of explain why, um, “I feel sad because you forgot my birthday” or “I feel hurt when you use language that is degrading to me.” Um, so things like that, um, are really are, I guess, statements like that are really important to convey to your partner really how you are feeling in the moment and it takes ownership of your feelings and sort of blaming the other person.

Instead of saying, you make me feel this way, or you do this, you do that. That gets in a very blaming place. The ‘I’ statements come from a place of, this is how I’m feeling. I’m taking ownership of this and I’m sharing these feelings with you and you can kind of bring your partner into the end of it of saying like, I feel blank when this happens or when you don’t listen to the things that I’m saying or whatever, but it can’t ever start with you. And it can’t be, I feel that because that is just making a statement, it has to be an I feel and feeling word, okay. Um, take turns talking. So this is one that I practice with couples a lot because oftentimes either couples will cut each other off and not let the other person finish, or they will let the other person finish but then they jump in right away with a rebuttal right afterwards.

And they’re not actually listening to what the other person is saying. They’re just letting the other person talk and in their mind, they’re formulating their response already without actually listening to what their partner is saying. So I teach active listening, which means fully being engaged in what the person is saying and not formulating your next thought or rebuttal until your partner is done talking. Um, and that’s really important. And even if it takes, you know, a minute or two for you to formulate a response, all you have to do is just kind of check in with your partner, let them know, “Hey, I’m, I’m just processing. I just need a few moments to get together what I want to say” and then say it. Um, but that’s much better than not listening to what your partner is saying and just thinking about what you want to say next.

Because then your partner is probably going to do the same thing and nobody’s hearing each other, you’re just talking at each other. So take turns talking. Sometimes I tell, uh, partners to set a timer so that like one person gets one minute and when that minute is up, then the other person gets another minute. And I also work with couples on, um, ways to reiterate what the other person has said. So if one person gets a minute to talk, then the first thing that the other person says is not their own thoughts and feelings, but as actually kind of their own paraphrasing of what their partner has just said. So that partner knows that they’ve, their other partner, has heard what they said and is trying to formulate an understanding of that. And if it’s not correct, then the partner that was just talking can kind of correct them on maybe some important information that they missed or an interpretation they made that maybe isn’t quite true for that partner. So take turns, talking has lots of different facets in it that can be really helpful.

No stonewalling. So stonewalling is a word that just means one person kind of shuts down and refuses to engage in the conversation. And this can be really harmful, even though there’s a lot of people that that is just kind of how they process and deal with emotions. And so when that happens, I have to work with that partner to try and manage that feeling of wanting to just shut down, um, to continue to engage with their partner or to take a break if they are too flooded, too much emotion, that they can’t formulate anything to say. Um, take a planned break and planned means it has been specified. We both will take a break to kind of come down, cool down. Um, and then there is a planned time to return to each other.

Um, so stonewalling can be really detrimental to a relationship when it just happens in the moment and the other person is like, “Hello, are you paying attention to me? Are you checked out? Like what is happening right now?” And the other person just shuts down and doesn’t want to engage. And sometimes maybe they just sit there or sometimes they do just get up and leave without saying anything. And it’s just like, they’re just walking out. So that can make the other partner feel, um, like the other person doesn’t care, or the other person, you know, may not love them or that they can’t trust them to stick around, to have that conversation. Um, or they’re just going to leave and leaving, not just in the moment, but leave the relationship. Um, so stonewalling can be a problem.

Um, next one, no yelling. Again, yelling kind of goes into the degrading language, but it’s just another facet of that. Um, when we’re yelling again, we’re just communicating anger. We’re not really communicating about our true feelings other than anger. Um, and anger tends to be kind of a surface feeling. Um, and it’s definitely still a valid feeling, but anger tends to not get a lot done. That, the underneath feelings like hurt and sadness, um, are more understanding of what is going on in the situation and more how, what the situation is or what is going on in the situation, how that’s impacting you. Um, and that’s better information for your partner to understand what’s going on for you than just yelling.

Um, take a time out if things get too heated. Again, kind of going back to what I just said. Um, sometimes we get to, we use the word flooded, but that’s basically just when emotions are so high that you just can’t engage in your frontal cortex. Um, which means engaging in like a rational conversation that, you know, you’re gonna say things that you’re gonna regret saying. So it’s taking a planned break of time, where both people say, okay, we’re going to take a break, you know, that that’s happening. Um, and stating a certain amount of time for how long the break is going to take place for. So like an hour or two hours maybe a day, maybe we say, okay, it’s late at night. And a lot of people think that, you know, don’t go to bed angry.

Sometimes there’s some merit to that, but oftentimes it’s like, okay, we’re staying up way past our bedtime. And that’s just making it so that we’re both tired, exhausted, and don’t have the capacity to have a rational conversation. So we’re probably still saying things that we’re going to regret. So sometimes going to bed angry is okay and waiting until the next day when we’ve slept, we’ve hopefully eaten, um, and we’re in a little bit better space to have that conversation again, um, is better to be able to continue having more of a rational conversation.

The last one is attempt to come to a compromise or an understanding. Um, so that’s just trying to find some resolution and sometimes that means agreeing to disagree. Um, but I think if we can find a way to at least have, you know, a solution on the table or working towards a solution, um, and then finding, I personally think some type of physical way to end the conflict or the conversation. So a hug, a kiss, letting the other person know, I still love you, I’m still in this relationship, this isn’t going to break us that, you know, this is just part of the relationship, we’re just having a conversation, um, is really important. Because sometimes couples will just try to swipe something under the rug and then just pretend like everything is okay. And that’s a really weird, like, “Are we okay? Are we not okay? I don’t really know. And then I guess we’re okay. But then we never really like found any resolution.” So having a clear, like this is the end, and we’re not going to bring this up again until, you know, again, we plan on bringing it up again or it comes up again. Um, having some way of saying, I still love you. I still care about you. I’m still in this relationship to still have that foundation of trust and, um, security in the relationship is really important.

So those are my communication and conflict resolution tips for you. Um, if you want to get in touch with me for couples therapy or even individual therapy to work on these things or anything else that I do, um, you can find me, uh, on my website at reclaimingstoriestherapy.com. Um, and you can go to my contact page or if you’re on any of my service pages, you can fill out my fillable form. That’s my little gesture that I do. Um, and I will get back to you as soon as possible. Um, you can also find me on Facebook and Instagram @reclaimingstoriestherapy. Um, and my YouTube channel is The Millennial Therapist – RS for Reclaiming Stories. Um, and that’s how you can find me. So as always, thank you so much for watching this video, um, and I will see you all next time. Take care. Bye bye.


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5224 Olympic Drive, Suite 109
Gig Harbor, WA 98335

(253) 525-2424

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