Resolving Conflict = Happy Life

    An angry/frustrated, unhappy, couple                   A happy, functioning, couple

Conflicts are unavoidable. Conflicts are part of the experience called life.


When a conflict is unresolved it often festers and creates even more problems, problems that are harder to resolve than was the original conflict.


When a conflict is resolved it releases good energy, brings people closer, leads to mutual understanding, appreciation and respect, and helps to re-wire our brains so that we can better handle stress and conflict in the future!


How can you resolve a conflict?

  1. Begin by acknowledging that you are struggling/triggered/unhappy.
  2. Take full responsibility for your own state of mind. (It's not the fault of the other; they are responsible only for their words and actions). See more about this under the tabs Anger and Keys to a Healthy Relationship. Do not take responsibility for how the other person is responding. Blaming yourself helps no-one.
  3. Step back from the situation (if possible) and take stock of what is going on for you. What did you expect? Is this fair? Were you respectful? If not, what are you afraid of, really yearning for? How did you express these?
  4. Now attempt to understand what the concerns and perspective of the other person might be. Don't assume, but do try to have empathy. Doing so does not mean you agree with their position or the way they are handling the conflict!
  5. After calming down go to the other person/party and calmly ask if they are ready to talk yet. If so (permission is granted), then let them know what your intention is (e.g. "to work this out with you in a mutually respectful and helpful way"), apologise for behaving poorly (if this was so), reveal what fears were getting in the way of your communicating well, and ask them to help you understand what was going on for them. Invite them to do the same with you. It may be that you both have to first determine what is necessary in order for both of you to feel safe enough to really engage with each other. Sometimes drawing up a list of respectful communication methods is necessary. List these as positives, not negatives (e.g. "Take turns talking" vs. "Don't dominate the conversation").
  6. Both individuals/parties then try to get to the roots of the conflict. It is likely that you have some common goals/aspirations/hopes but that you came up with different ways of accomplishing them. Look for places of commonality. Be respectfully honest (not the same things as being "brutally honest"!)
  7. Once both have spent some time exploring their fears, hopes, dreams, expectations, etc. then solutions that work for both parties will begin to surface. Note that this step of coming up with solutions is the last step, not the first! In this way, the solutions arrived at are far more likely to be followed, with far less likelihood of there being resentment or worse.
  8. Forgive each other. See more about this here.
  9. Make sure both people/parties understand the outcome of the process, what (concretely) they are agreeing to, and time-lines (if any).
  10. Very importantly: appreciate that you both did this! Let the other person/party know you appreciate them risking and taking the time to do this with you! Show that appreciation in a way the other may appreciate.
  11. Enjoy a much better relationship! Have fun together!


We can help you to turn conflict into a better life through counselling or mediation. Just call.

Other resources

Excellence Seminars
Excellence Seminars

An exceptionally helpful program is offered throughout North America, called the Pursuit of Excellence. It's 'excellent' for individuals and for couples, team members, families; indeed, everyone! One of the components to the Pursuit of Excellence is a conflict resolution model that works.


Why? In large part because the program helps participants better understand and appreciate themselves and take full responsibility for themselves. After this conflicts usually become much smaller and then they help people forge stronger relationships (of all kinds).


Check out their website: