3362 Big Pine Trail, Suite A, Champaign, Illinois 61822

Although conflict is a natural aspect of any relationship, it can also be a significant stress source.  Therefore, it's essential to learn how to resolve disputes respectfully and find a resolution-regardless of the issue's size. This seems like an obvious statement, but many people tend to suppress their emotions so that they can keep the peace. However, having productive discussions and acknowledging there's an issue can only strengthen your relationship quality.

This is why conflict resolution — the ability to resolve issues respectfully, is so crucial.

Here are 6 strategies to make conflict resolution more straightforward and less stressful.

Sharpen your listening skills. How we listen is just as important as how we express ourselves. Sometimes, making an effort to ensure the other person feels heard and understood can go a long way towards resolution. Good listening also allows you to bridge the gap between the two of you, understand where the disconnect lies, etc.

Practice assertive communication. Communicating your feelings and needs is also an essential feature of conflict resolution.  The critical thing to remember is to say what's on your mind clearly and assertively, without aggression. 

Seek a solution. Once you find common ground, it's time to seek a resolution. If the disagreement was based on a misunderstanding, sometimes a simple apology can do the trick, and having an open discussion with your partner can bring you closer together. Other times, it's a bit more complicated. If there doesn't seem to be a clear solution, you can agree to disagree, compromise, or come back to it later when both of you have had time to process. The most important thing is to go to a place of learning and try to work things out in a respectful way to all involved.

Compromise. Compromise is an art. Relationship expert Dr. Gottman advises, "Compromise never feels perfect. Everyone gains something, and everyone loses something. the important thing is feeling understood, respected, and honored in your dreams." 

Refrain from showing contempt for your partner. Relationship experts say that out of all the negative things you can do or say, the worst of them is showing contempt. These are the remarks that belittle or put your partner down. Name-calling, sarcastic comments, smirking, or rolling your eyes are all examples of contempt and show your partner that you don’t respect them. Not only does it make it challenging to have a productive conversation, but expressing contempt has also been shown to be the number one predictor for divorce. 

Accept influence. Acknowledge that your partner can have healthy ideas and opinions. Show respect for them and find something you can learn from your partner. Take this quiz to see where you most need to improve when it comes to accepting influence.

These strategies aren’t the easiest to practice but will benefit you and your partner in the long run. Do your best to utilize a few. You’ll be sure to notice significant improvements in the quality of your conversations and relationship.

A pet is more than just a pet — they're part of the family. That's why it's so painful when we have to say goodbye. Grief comes in waves, and we endure the same stages of denial, anger, guilt, depression, and finally acceptance as if we were losing a family member or a friend.

Here are 7 ways that may help you better cope after losing your pet. 

  1. Consider a ceremony. Find comfort in gathering with friends and family to remember your pet. Have an intimate memorial service to signify a funeral. While it's a time for you to say goodbye, it's also a time to celebrate the life of your pet.
  2. Reflect upon the life you shared with your pet. Take the time to ponder through writing, storytelling, or creating. Whatever expression brings you the most comfort. 
  3. Maintain routines with your living animals. They're experiencing grief and the loss of their companion as well. Dogs can search for their pack member, while cats may hide or spend more time alone. Try to maintain your routines with them, as they provide a sense of structure and familiarity for everyone involved.
  4. Take your time. Don't rush yourself to "get over it". Go at your own pace, and find your comfort in different things. If you find fur on the floor and you're not ready to give it up just yet, leave it there. Grief is a unique process for everyone. 
  5. Honor your pet's memory. Find a way that's meaningful to you. Whether that's by planting a tree, volunteering, or donating to a favorite animal charity, it's a great way to keep your pet’s memory alive.
  6. Permit yourself to feel. Trying to pretend like you're not affected by it will only bring the pain back later on. Forgive yourself for the things you weren't able to do with them, and understand that you did your best. With what life presented you with at the time, you did your best.
  7. Seek support when you need it. Grief is an individual experience, and we do our best when we can share it with others. Recognize when you need support-whether, it's calling a friend or spending time with a loved one. IN the same way, it's essential to recognize when you'd benefit from spending time alone. Don't force yourself to be with other people just for the sake of it. Sometimes, we need time ourselves to process our feelings.

It is essential to understand that it's completely normal to mourn the loss of your pet. Process these feelings as they arise and take the time to work through them. Remember to find comfort in knowing that there will be a day when you can remember your friend with cherished memories and strength.

We all know people that are more "difficult" to interact with than others. While some are blissfully unaware of how they affect those around them, some seem to get a certain amount of satisfaction from pushing our buttons. Regardless, these types of people bring unnecessary stress and complexity into our lives.

Whether it's your overbearing mother-in-law or a less than pleasant co-worker, here are 7 steps you can take to make the best out of dealing with difficult people.

  1. Listen. Although this may be one of the most challenging things to do, listening is one of the most important ways to deal with a difficult person. Everyone wants to feel heard; some just have unique ways of letting others know. Pay attention to what this person is trying to tell you, rather than thinking about what you're going to say next. You might even surprise yourself with what you learn when you set defensiveness aside and read between the lines.
  1. Stay calm. It’s far more challenging to listen if you’re not calm. When you find yourself getting caught up in the heat of the moment, take a step back, and focus on your breathing. 
  1. Reflect and validate. Try to understand the situation. Obtaining some clarity by asking questions while managing your reactions can help find a mutually satisfactory outcome. When you check your understanding, it tells the person you're doing your best to cooperate and understand what they're saying. Although they may not express the way they're feeling verbatim, do your best to empathize. They may not be used to someone trying to understand them, and you may even get a different response from them. 
  1. Seek advice from others. When in doubt, seek out others’ support. Sometimes, discussing it with a trusted source can help you reframe the situation to facilitate a more positive outcome.
  1. Don’t fight fire with fire. Raising your voice or being disrespectful will only add fuel to an already heated situation. Try your best to use a low, calm, even monotone voice. Don't try and talk over them, and use your best judgment in knowing when to respond.
  1. Establish boundaries. While it's important to reflect and listen to a difficult person, everyone has limits on how much they can handle. Recognize what yours are and set clear, appropriate boundaries. You have a right to decide what you choose to tolerate.
  2. Take care of yourself. Once the situation is over, talk to someone about it or find a way to relax. It's important to discharge your stress after setting aside your natural reactions for a while. 

 And finally, give yourself some credit!  It takes a lot of effort not to act like a jerk when someone is deserving of it. Don't skip this step! 

Implementing a few of these strategies will help you de-escalate challenging situations, but keep in mind that everyone responds differently to them. Stay flexible and remember that every unpleasant encounter will pass. As your communication skills improve, these situations become simpler to manage.

It's no question that it takes work to protect, nurture, and improve a marriage. Between your day-to-day responsibilities and obligations, sometimes it can seem like an impossible task. While some relationships may benefit from calling it quits, others can benefit from making a few changes. 
Drawn from evidence-based practices, here are 9 proactive strategies you can do to strengthen your marriage.
  1. Communicate regularly. In the age of technology, it's almost impossible not to get distracted. You may have even experienced days without having a genuine conversation with your spouse. To deepen intimacy and strengthen your relationship, it's essential to feel comfortable communicating about your life, interests, dreams, and stressors. Even for a small amount of time per day, listen to one another express their thoughts and feelings, free from interruptions or distractions. 
  2. Give each other space. Finding the right amount of time to spend with one another is one of the most challenging things to achieve in marriage. Too much can feel smothering, while too little can be misinterpreted as inattentive. While everyone has a different amount of personal space they require, be attentive to you and your partner's needs. The key is that you both make a collective effort to spend quality time together while also allowing each other the space you need.
  3.  Learn to repair and exit the argument. According to expert John Gottman, using humor, offering a caring remark, or even backing down, are examples of repair attempts before an argument gets entirely out of control. The happiest of couples have identified which strategies work best for them and practice them regularly. Generally speaking, offering signs of appreciation and openly sharing feelings along the way is the fundamental idea.  
  4. Focus on the positives. Make an effort to recognize and acknowledge the positives more than the negatives while discussing problems. For example, even if you believe that you "never have any fun together," it may be worth your while to point out the enjoyable, funny times you share. By making regular deposits to your emotional bank account, you promote a more prosperous climate of positivity.
  5. Use the 5 to 1 ratio. According to Gottman, having five positive interactions for every negative one is essential in nurturing a relationship. Everyone can appreciate the many varieties of positive attention, and while acknowledging the things they’re doing well may seem subtle, it can make a lasting change in your relationship. 
  6. Edit your communication skills. Thriving couples are kind to each other. Avoid saying every critical thought that comes to mind when discussing touchy subjects, and find ways to express your needs and concerns respectfully, without blame or shame. 
  7. Divide your labor. While positive interactions and excellent communication are essential, recent studies show that equally, dividing household labor is among the top three reasons people cite as keys to making a marriage work.
  8. Work on your friendship. Friendship correlates with understanding, admiration, and mutual respect. Couples with deep friendships report high levels of marital satisfaction, according to research.
  9. Seek help early. On average, couples wait six years before getting help for marital issues-meaning that the average couple lives with unhappiness and dissatisfaction for far too long. If you feel there's any sign of trouble, seek help early on. There's no shame in working with a counselor to help you and your partner improve your relationship.

About Insight Therapy

Insight Therapy is a professional mental health private practice located in Champaign - Urbana. Insight Therapy offers individual therapy, couples counseling, family counseling, and professional mediation services to clients of all ages and issues.

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Insight Therapy, LLC
3362 Big Pine Trail
Suite A
Champaign, Illinois 61822

Phone: (217) 383-0151
Fax: (217) 633-4555

Practice Areas

Depression, Anxiety, Trauma, Addiction, Couples Counseling, Eating Disorders, Sexual Abuse Survivor, School Anxiety, Women's Issues, Relationship Issues, BiPolar Disorder, Personality Disorders, Family Issues, Couples Counseling, Mediation, and more!