Healthy relationships: a cornerstone of stress management

We are social beings, and the effect of relationships on our life satisfaction is significant. However, depending on how we manage these relationships, they can be a fundamental pillar in our stress management or end up being another factor that causes physiological and emotional imbalance.

What do you have to take into account when it comes to conflict resolution?

  1. Conflict does not “magically” disappear. If it is not resolved, it is likely to escalate, as prejudices and misunderstandings are accumulated over time. Consequently, if you ignore it or deny it and do not confront it, it will become more and more difficult to resolve.
  2. Secondly, the vision with which it should be confronted is one of opportunity for growth and improvement, not confrontation and expiry.
  3. If we don’t have a real interest in the relationship changing, we will certainly not put the energy, and have enough patience, into making it happen.
  4. It is important to reflect on the elements of the conflict, and to do so, we can use this battery of questions: (It is essential to be clear about the scope of the conflict, how essential it is to me, what prejudices and assumptions I am starting from, what obstacles I can foresee and what I am willing to give up and what I am not willing to give up in order to resolve it.)
  5. It is also essential to reflect beforehand on the vision that “the other” may have of the problem, that is, to use empathy to try to understand them and to be able to comprehend the motives that lead them to maintain their position. To encourage this approach, it can be very useful to send yourself the following messages: “if this person could think differently with their personal experiences and resources, maybe they would”; surely “there is no special intention to annoy me”, “maybe I don’t know how to do it differently”, “everyone does the best they know how with the resources they have”. All these messages will help you to see the other person from a different perspective.
  6. Separate behaviours from people: Saying that “he/she is like that” does not help, express it by saying that “he/she has behaved like that”. Behaviours can be modified and therefore, the message that we usually send ourselves that “he/she is like that and will not change” no longer makes sense. This message does not motivate us to invest in resolving the conflict because, if something is impossible, my brain understands that it is a useless waste of energy, so why am I going to try to change it?
  7. Eliminate pre-established labels, ignore them: for example “he’s selfish” “he’s stubborn” “he doesn’t love me” “he doesn’t care about me”, because these expressions condition us and make us upset.
  8. Keep in mind that to resolve a conflict you have to give in “on something”. It is essential that the solution we find is a WIN TO WIN, or else the conflict will not be resolved. If one of the parties feels like a loser, it will surely resurface at some point. To test if it has really been resolved, stop and visualise the situation, think about the other person and observe your body, if it no longer generates discomfort, it will be settled.
  9. Choose the right time and place to deal with it and work on it. It is essential to dedicate the necessary time to it, haste is not a good advisor, and also choose a place that is pleasant and where you feel at ease.
  10. Role play beforehand, preparing yourself to give answers to the circumstances or questions that may arise in the meeting.
  11. Listen to the other person attentively. Discover and connect with the latent emotionality underneath the problem, this will help you to empathise. 

Use open questions that encourage dialogue, that help you to move from your positions to find the underlying interests, because that is where the solution will come from. Use facts and not judgements.

Last but not least, acknowledge what you have worked on and the importance of the relationship.

 A quality social support network will help us manage our stress levels because it will allow us to emotionally share our circumstances and that pays off, so investing in improving our relationships is definitely worthwhile.