How To Turn Conflict Into Connection

Tips for starting difficult conversations in a relationship

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If you’re afraid to speak up in a relationship about an issue that’s bothering you because you don’t want to cause turmoil, you’re not alone. It’s common to want to avoid conflict. But, developing and practicing how to have a low negativity threshold when it comes to discussing issues with the other party can improve your relationship and help you both avoid resentment.

Low negativity threshold

Having a low negativity threshold means that when an issue arises that bother you or the other party, you address it sooner rather than later. 

Many people assume that ignoring problems is better for the relationship than surfacing them. We often tell ourselves that we “shouldn’t sweat the small stuff”. But according to research, couples who discuss problems soon after they arise are less likely to be resentful and are more resilient in their relationships. 

How to start addressing issues in a relationship

To prepare yourself for discussing an issue, ask yourself these questions: 

  • What am I not saying to the other party that I want to discuss?
  • What am I afraid might happen if I do bring it up?
  • What do I want to happen by bringing it up?

It’s not easy to start the conversation. To begin, try using this sample script, or come up with one on your own. 

Hey ____. There are some thing that I’d like to share with you, but I’m afraid/shy/reluctant because I fear ____. Ideally I’d like to be able to ____. What I want to share/ask/discuss is _____. Thanks for listening, If you’re ready, is there anything you’d like to say in response to what I just shared?

Changing how you operate in a relationship is challenging, especially when you can’t control how the other person will react. But ignoring issues can make your relationship more difficult. Remember, the more you practice, the easier it’ll become. You may be surprised to learn that there are issues the other party has been wanting to discuss with you, too. 

If you feel threatened, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline atr 1-800-799-7233. You can also get help via chat 24/7/365 through their website at www.thehotline.org/

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