If you’re part of any family, you know that it comes with its own unique set of challenges. Siblings can fight; parents and their adult children may have different ideas about what’s best for them, and generations from grandparents to grandchildren may struggle to see eye-to-eye on just about anything. But conflict doesn’t have to be the default setting for all interactions within a family unit. Relying on healthy relationships can help ease tensions and resolve conflicts when they do arise. Whether you live with your family, are planning a visit, or simply want to create more harmony among everyone in your sphere, these tips will help you manage conflict better and strengthen relationships significantly.
#1: Communicate clearly and openly.
Family relationships are built on communication, which means that when you’re not communicating clearly, the foundations of your relationships can start to crumble. To avoid this, make sure that everyone feels comfortable communicating their needs and feelings. If someone seems to be struggling with this, try to put them at ease by making it clear that no one will be judged for what they share. Everyone deserves to feel safe enough to share their thoughts and feelings and be fully heard. You’ll find that your relationships will be stronger as a result.
#2: Focus on the positive.
Family relationships naturally involve lots of positive feelings, and you’ll do well to keep those in mind when disagreements arise. Rather than getting caught up in the negative feelings that often accompany conflict, try to focus on the positive aspects of your family relationships. This will help you maintain a healthy frame of mind and will be more likely to lead to productive discussions. Positive feelings can also help you keep things in perspective when you’re feeling stressed, which may happen when family members are particularly opinionated or outspoken.
#3: Remember that you’re all on the same team.
When you look at family members as members of the same team, it will help you see the logic in the fact that you don’t always agree on everything. For example, if your parents prefer a certain type of daily routine while you may want to choose a different one. This doesn’t mean that you’re on opposite ends of the same battlefield—it just means that you have different needs, and your parents would probably be happy to help you find the best solution for your situation.
#4: Don’t take things personally.
It can be tempting to take whatever someone says or does personally, but this will only make it more likely that you’ll get into an argument. Once you’re in the middle of an argument, it can be nearly impossible to get out of it with your relationships intact. If you can’t let go of an issue quickly, it will only build up and fester, making it more likely that you’ll say something you regret. It’s best to take what people say at face value and let any negative feelings go. If you have a tendency to take things more personally than you should, it may help to imagine yourself standing on a beach as waves of statements and actions wash over you. Let them flow right back out again.
#5: Together, create a plan for moving forward.
Instead of letting the end of the holiday season be the end of the good feelings you’ve been working toward, make an effort to keep your relationships strong well into the new year. This can be as simple as checking in with your family members on a regular basis to ask how they’re doing and how you can support them. While you may not be able to change the fact that you’re related to the people in your family, you can change the way you approach and deal with the relationships you have with them.