Managing Conflict

AngryCouple

“Conflict is inevitable, but combat is optional”

The Nature of Relationship Conflict

Real conflicts in relationships are more than just elements associated with let downs, frustrations, incivility or broached boundaries. They’re deeper and more powerful than arguments and disagreements would at first appear. Relationship conflicts are situations where you or your partner perceive an emotional menace, whether that menace is real or imagined. What’s worse is that they tend to repeat and don’t go away from one relationship to another—that is, these menaces will travel with you into your next relationship and with a new partner. These are highly visceral reactions to situations that rationality will not clear away unless the phantoms that are driving this behavior are identified and addressed. It is important to realize that conflicts more central to issues of attachment and commitment will evoke not only a greater threat response from you or your partner, but are more likely to be the structural fault within your relationship and will be a leading candidate for that relationship failure. That is, unresolved emotional issues have a markedly disproportional negative effect on the health and viability of your relationships and as leaders and managers of our relationships we have a responsibility to lead and manage these.

The Nature of Conflict Avoidance

Much like the real issues driving emotional conflicts, conflict avoidance hides several significant motivators to avoid conflict interactions and serves as a good analogy to the hidden emotional issues behind conflicts. Most people can relate to a very basic element of conflict avoidance just because of the very nature of conflict itself; that it is absorbing, energy-consuming and honestly we want to believe that we have better things to do… but is that truly why we avoid conflict, or are there other issues that are really motivating us from venturing there? Would it be more true to recognize that we may be lacking conflict skills and have had a history of poor utilization of those skills and almost no recognizable ability to manage conflict in a healthy and productive way? Are we too afraid, feel too vulnerable or unsure how to bring to the light of day deeply guarded emotional issues with our partner? Are we honestly too insecure about the nature and true character of our relationship to test it in the crucible of conflict and are afraid to find out the reality of where it stands? Understanding these and any other motivator you may have to avoid conflict will be the first step you take to managing conflict within any relationship.

A Lack of Social Fluency

As children we go through the process of learning and developing a large number of social skills facilitating our interactions with others. One of the most important, but seldom taught or developed is conflict skills. And like all skills, unless as adults we continue to develop, nurture and hone our abilities, we’re slaves to the maturity skill level of our abilities of when we initially learned them, regardless of our actual age. It’s why you’ll see fully grown adults resorting to acting like children, because they honestly have no real ability to do otherwise. Their skill set is limited to that of a child’s. On a fundamental level the ability to hold constructive and healthy conflict sessions is a mark of maturity and one relegated to a fully developed adult. Children need to be taught the critical skills of collaborating with others, restraining anger escalation, rejecting shutting down and emotional withdrawal as a viable conflict management strategy and avoiding or changing destructive behavioral patterns of aggression, to resolve or manage conflict. If as an adult you have not developed those, have positive experience utilizing them and have confidence in your ability to enact these abilities, it’s time you sat down with your inner-child and have a heart-to-heart about developing them.

Emotional Gateway

In an emotional conflict people rarely convey the needs at the heart of the problem; the words being said isn’t what your partner is trying to communicate, the issue being addressed, isn’t really the true issue, as there is often a bigger issue behind a closed emotional door, that contains a very large emotional elephant. If we really listen to our partners, not only in what they are saying to us, but in the patterns of behaviors that bring us back to this same very place, time after time, we may come to realize that they are in fact bringing us to an emotional gateway. We ourselves may not even be aware of how deeply a particular issue from our past affected us, until a situation involving conflict has occurred to uncover it. Partners that don’t trust themselves, have the ability or established an operating pattern and history to discuss pertinent, at-risk issues appropriately will often utilize inappropriate methods to advance an issue into the forefront. They will start a minor conflict to segway the discussion into a larger and more important issue, that they feel inadequate discussing, often called a lead-in. A partner who fears holding a particular discussion due to fears of evoking abandonment issues, relationship flight (you leaving her) or heightened emotional insecurities, may in fact deny the presence of hidden issues, even when directly asked (she may not actually be even aware of it herself). We should be cognizant of this possibility and book mark emotional conflicts, so that if we keep returning to them, we can realize that there truly is something else there, even if our partner is unwilling to openly address it, or the fact we can’t see it. In such a case, finding and knocking on these emotional doors may not be enough. Our partners may continue to deny their existence. In such cases, it is not our responsibility to open those doors, it is our partner’s. If they choose to keep them shut and us out, we can only identify that we were aware, willing and offering a safe environment for them to share with us, but they are ultimately accountable for not doing so. Regrettably these issues tend to be the leading cause for relationship failures, known or otherwise and that is of their making, not ours.

The Crucible- a Test of Character

Emotional conflicts within relationships test the character of the relationship itself and can tell us as much about the relationship, as it does the individuals within the conflict. Just as we can deduce an individual’s social fluency by observing their social skill mastery, we can evaluate a relationship’s strength, health and vibrancy by observing how conflict is handled, regarded and managed within the relationship. Is the conflict not only addressed in a manner which seeks resolution by both partners, but do the partners separate the individual from the issue with tact and respect and do the partners utilize the source of conflict for greater understanding and comprehension of their partner? When done so, conflict can be a tremendous opportunity to lead to deeper respect, trust and intimacy. Conflict tests relationships and individuals more rigorously than other forms of interactions and can be very frightening because of it, but by developing our and our partner’s ability to handle, manage and constructively resolve conflict can we gain honest confidence in our relationship’s true strength and character, by having navigated through it.

Conflict Cost

We must learn to manage conflict because the risks involved in not doing so are very real and very, very costly. Appropriate conflict management prevents physical and psychological aggression within intimate relationships. We are vastly less likely to lash out with physical violence, in releasing engulfed rage and anger that has built up rapidly within a spiraling and unrestrained conflict setting. We are less likely to be physically domineering and physically aggressive, in an attempt to control or manage a situation where our skill sets have failed us. We are less likely to commit emotional and psychological harm in delivering vicious and insidious personal verbal attacks in moments of lost self-regulation. We are less likely to lose relationships that we have invested heavily in emotionally, physically, sexually, socially and financially. Beyond the total sum cost of any failed relationship, the cost of not developing conflict management skills is that this lack of ability will likely be handed down from Father to child. Parents that manage conflict appropriately are less likely to neglect or abuse their children and are more than likely to pass those positive behavior skill sets down to their children. The same hand that guides the Mother will be the same hand that guides his children.

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The Brand called YOU.

“There is only one thing worse than being blind, it is having no vision…”

Successful companies throughout the world understand the importance of brands, as do individuals who are interested in what it takes to stand out and prosper, not only in business, but on the personal front as well.

Make no mistake, in the SMP (Sexual Market Place) you are both a commodity and a service provider. As such, you have a brand; an identity/personality/personal narrative that becomes the perception that people will form about you, in relation to being with and around you and as importantly, what they can expect from you. It is your personal message to the world. It tells everyone so much about you, even before you meet or engage them that often decisions are made just upon an initial visual summary. In this regard, you will live or die by it, as a false perception of you will have the same distinction of a real one.

What is of concern here is not only identifying your brand, but specifically and properly communicating that brand, (is it clear and distinguishable?), and making sure that brand is congruent with whom you really are and whom you want to be ( is your strategy in alignment with your life goals?)… a lack of either will severely affect your results in the SMP.

Are you aware of what you are communicating through your appearance, behavior, demeanor, methods of communication and relationship behaviors and expectations?  Is your brand in line with and in alignment to where you want your life to go? If not, you need to take the time to work and develop those areas, as your results in the SMP will be a reflection of what marketers refer to as your brand experience, which is the sum of all points of contact your potential customers have with your brand.

In understanding or developing your brand, it will take several steps and analysis that include a personal attributes and values analysis, a review of current or projected brand positioning, your brand promise, an analysis of your brand presentation, the brand’s message persistence and a measure of market perception analysis to determine where your brand stands. Once determined and refined (the act of branding) you then are in a position to better market that brand towards a specific target audience, the types of women and relationships you want to be with and in. Not having and acting on a real understanding of that, you are subject to the nature of serendipity, as your sexual marketing strategy and that just isn’t smart. Nor is it typically effective.

You brand for better effect is your story and your vision for your life. To be most effective your brand shouldn’t just be a list of attributes that are communicated in short narration such as displays of higher value, but should be integrated and woven into an overall combined story that builds a powerful connection between ideas, people and actions taken. They should give context and robust understanding to the information that you provide. It needs to be a story that is succinct, powerful and captivating. It also needs to be relevant to your target audience, places you in position of worth and inspires your audience to act upon your value.

To accomplish these goals your personal branding story needs to achieve several areas of impact beyond your personal physical attributes, social skills and personal aura (displays of personality);

Project into the future

It is not enough to discuss your personal history and experiences, but rather they should be the basis and foundation of why they are going to propel you to a specific future. It should emphasize where you are going and why you are going to be successfully in getting there.

Convey relevance

Your story isn’t really about you. It’s about how being in a relationship with you, in combining your lives together are going to benefit each other. It answers your customer’s wants and needs clearly.

Confirms your credibility

Your story walks people through a learning curve of critical pieces of information that will assist them developing and confirming your credibility for answering their wants and needs in a succinct manner. Where you have specific experience in meeting the needs, wants and desires of your audience member. Where those experiences failed, what was learned and gained from them.

Creates an emotional connection

It is not enough to just list the facts, but to forge a strong emotional bond though vulnerability, candor and shared experiences, where the audience gains a heightened emotional intimacy and understanding of your story and ultimately you.

 Differentiates

Your story needs to explain exactly why you are the best choice out there, such as a measure of quality, refinement, discernment, ability, performance etc… it is any specific element that attaches value to the proposition that you are offering, that is sensitive and important to the buyer.

Promotes action

Your story needs to motivate the audience to act… to provide the reasoning why your audience should buy your brand. Often this means not just meeting a particular need, want or desire, but also removing hidden or latent fears that are accompanying and associated with the root need, want or desire that tend to block or stymie action.

Personal branding is vastly more than just ‘knowing yourself’, it is recognizing that your audience is always watching, that it matters not only what you say, but what you do as well… it is a comprehensive environment in which you are actively striking chords with people to stir their emotions and awareness of who you are, so that their imaginations are stoked and fine tuned, as to what life with you would be like, what you have to offer and are compelled to act in that regard…