Awareness. Trust. Honesty. Communication. Teachability. Selflessness
These are pillars of a thriving relationship, and each virtue plays a role in good conflict. If even one is lacking, it will be a longer, more painful process to deal with problems. Which is why:
"The health of a relationship can be measured by the time it takes to identify, address and resolve a problem."
This is so important, I want to say it again, just differently. How long does it take from when a problem started for you to see and then resolve it? The shorter the time it takes, the healthier the relationship! Here’s how this all fits together:
Step 1. Identifying the problem quickly and accurately
Awareness: To resolve an issue, you have to be aware of the problem. This seems simple but for lack of awareness, most issues are overlooked until they’ve grown into a big deal. A 4 year old tells you “No!” you laugh and say “how cute” but when that 4 year old is 14, the same rebellious streak isn’t so cute, it’s a problem. A problem which started a long time ago and wasn’t identified as such.
The other important piece is being aware of what actually needs to be addressed. It’s not the symptoms (which are often the source of your frustration) but rather the root problem causing the symptoms.
Step 2. Addressing the problem with truth and love
Trust/Honesty/Communication: To have the courage to address the problem you’ve now identified, you have to trust your partner/friend/spouse will hear you. Many issues are left unaddressed simply because you’re afraid to speak up. There isn’t enough trust that you feel safe to have a difficult conversation and to know you will walk away with a relationship still intact. So you shove away the feelings and hope the problem goes away on it’s own.
Or, If you do have the trust, you have to care enough to be honest about what’s going on and present the truth in a way that creates a safe space for good dialogue (clearing up miscommunications, hearing each other and sharing your feelings) You have to present your frustrations tactfully so the offender doesn’t feel the need to become defensive.
Step 3. Resolving the problem with regard for the other person.
Teachability/Selflessness: Once you’ve addressed the problem, You need to be teachable; willing to hear another side, willing to change your assumptions and willing to come to an agreement. To truly resolve a problem, you both have to want what’s best for the other person.Then the issue can be handled and the relationship continue in it’s healthiest state.
Each of these steps in dealing with an issue can indicate what areas you or your partner may need to improve in order to deal with problems in the best and quickest way possible.
Here’s to better conflict for healthier relationships!