Conflict Management

“See the forest through the trees”

Conflict within a relationship may be frustrating, but is it really worth the incredible effort required to tackle it? Ask yourself; what is the cost of conflict avoidance or incompetent conflict resolution skills? The cost of conflict incompetence is a poisoned relationship… poisoned by anger, fear, defensiveness, negativity, hurt and embarrassment, combined with misunderstanding and distrust, which will weaken individual morale and obviously strain the relationship. This poison just doesn’t remain stagnant. It festers into a boil that mars even the most beautiful of intimacies. Lastly, what does conflict avoidance say about a man, his leadership ability, and his relationship fitness?

Men as leaders can manage conflict and improve an emotionally hostile situation, by learning to replace destructive behaviors with constructive behaviors, while seeing past the immediate issue for the impact it has on the course of the relationship. Doing so men will see a difference in how a specific conflict plays out and how conflicts generally apply within their relationships overall.

Determining the context

One of the utmost decisions you will have regarding a conflict is determining the time and place of it. Even if the conflict is thrust upon you, as a man, it is your role to determine the appropriateness and timing of it. If the context isn’t appropriate, or the emotions are getting out of control, it is essential to delay, postpone or defuse the mounting tension before carrying on. This can be as simple as calling a momentary time-out, defusing the tension by bringing the bigger picture into scope and highlighting shared emotional consideration and re-affirming emotional security by doing so, or postponing the conflict discussion until a later defined date. With regards to postponing the conflict, be sure to set a specific time frame and context in which you will discuss the conflict issue. This isn’t a dismissal, but a genuine acknowledgement that an issue needs to be addressed, but now, is not the time and place to discuss it. This is very much a form of boundary setting and needs to be treated and viewed as such. A partner unwilling to do so, is being disrespectful of you and the relationship. It is equally important for you to be seen following through on your promise to re-engage at the previously agreed upon time. Do not wait for the time to arrive and have your partner initiate the discussion. Be a man about it. Control the timing, context and the initiation of the conflict discussion, as promised. Realize that this is a form providing emotional security, for both of you, as well as the relationship.

Setting the tone

As a man and a leader you will be tasked with setting the tone of the conflict, through leading by example. Emotionally deterred leaders are poor ones. Letting emotions run-away is a sure sign of a failed leadership and a general fitness test in a man. This doesn’t mean you can’t respond emotionally when and where appropriate and justifiable, but getting pulled ‘off-sides’ with regards to emotional escalation with your partners behavior or emotions isn’t acceptable. You simply lose credibility as a man and as a competent leader while tarnishing your established image. At these moments, what are you emotionally telling your partner? What is her emotional take-away from the situation? It’s one thing to develop your brand when selling to the client, it’s another when dealing with an issue on the back-end in customer service. It’s not enough just to choose your words wisely, but you need to establish and control the tone of the conflict as well.

Taking perspective

As with any conflict there tends to be a critical mass of emotions surrounding a perceived failed expectation, and the issue at hand may only be a symptom of it, not the underlying cause or motivator for the conflict. For this reason, it is incredibly important to try to understand the other person’s point of view and more importantly where they are coming from emotionally. Focus on their words and behaviors, not your assumptions. Asking yourself, or more importantly, asking them, “why do you think that?”, can open the doors to a greater understanding of what the real issue is to them. Learning to actively listen to the other person with the intent of understanding rather than debating. It is important that your partner be fully heard, don’t interrupt, let them finish what they are saying, then summarize their points of view regarding the conflict BEFORE presenting your ideas and opinions.

Discussing emotions

There is a remarkable difference between ‘discussing emotions’ and ‘expressing emotions’. While emotions will surely be at the core of a conflict, letting emotions get away from one another and getting caught up in the moment emotionally will be severely detrimental. It is immensely better to discuss emotions in a forthright, appropriate manner, rather than have pent-up emotions expressed uncontrollably. To properly address emotions, make sure that the emotions being expressed is helpful, is specific and reflects your point of view, such as using the phrase “I feel”, “I am frustrated because” etc.. Refrain from using words or terms that project blame, condescension or judgment.

Creating solutions

Today’s man is expected to showcase leadership skills that have vastly heightened sense of emotional intelligence with regard to collaboration skills, consensus achievement, team building and forging strong personal connections throughout the conflict process, especially in this Sexual Market Place. It is for these reasons, it is best to jointly review the underpinnings of the conflict and together propose and chart changes of patterns of communication, held expectations, defining emotional promises and agreed upon behaviors associated with resolving the conflict. Woe be it to any man who relies on the age-old patriarchy leadership skill of alpha dominance to ‘resolve’ a dispute. The likely outcome will be an emotional insurgency by your partner that will ultimately be resolved when she act upon her natural hypergamy to fortify her failing sense of self-worth, self-esteem and self-respect, by spreading herself for an emotionally intelligent alpha cock who ‘gets her’. …and yes, he will, no doubt repeatedly, as sex with women tends to follow those that hold their emotions.


Time without attention is worthless…


Listen like a shrink…

Powerful listening goes beyond hearing words and messages; it connects us emotionally with our partner. It is equally important to listen to what your partner is NOT saying, as it is important as to what they are saying, whether that be the nature of their body language or a deep core vulnerability that just isn’t being expressed openly. We need to learn to focus intently on the complete message being conveyed behind and between the words our partners use.

Throttling back the Alpha…

As a man, you will be expected to lead the relationship in developing and fostering conditions within the relationship that allow these mutual vulnerabilities to surface, which leads to meaningful and deep connection to form. These vulnerabilities are areas of our psyche where we feel raw and unprotected. We all have them. They stem from emotional injuries of our childhood and the bruising we take on the road to and through adulthood, which have left emotional scars that we carry with us, unless attended to. We can attempt to attend to these emotional wounds by conducting psychological social development self-analysis and relationship autopsies for ourselves and with our partners, but like so many issues in life it is what we do consistently that has greater influence than what we attempt acutely. We need to make acceptance and mutual understanding a regular part of your relationship, as all wounds are not old wounds. We know and can come to expect that fresh ones will and do occur, often inadvertently by our own hand. A healthy relationship is one set up and prepared for them.

The setting

The initial goal of active listening is to set a comfortable tone, to allow time and opportunity for your partner to express their thoughts and sentiments, under your undivided attention. Recognizing these moments when they occur is crucial. Conveying that you recognize your partner’s need of this more so. Take the time to be in a position, atmosphere and situation where this can be realized. If you are not, create it. Pay attention to your frame of mind, as well as your body language. Be focused on the moment and operate from a place of sincere respect, care and understanding. The message being sent here is one of care, consideration and respect.

Withhold judgment

Active listening requires an open mind and as a leader, you cannot be open to new ideas, new perspectives and new possibilities, while being judgmental and single-minded. Withholding judgment creates an atmosphere of safety where your partner has the opportunity to authentically express themselves, which develops emotional intimacy and trust through respect. It doesn’t mean you have to agree, but that you allow room for them to express their sentiments and you see, feel and acknowledge their perspective prior to forming and sharing your opinion.


Don’t assume that you initially understood your partner’s message. Paraphrase key points of understanding, intent and emotions before continuing. Don’t move the conversation forward until you do. Reflective listening is a way to indicate that you and your partner are on the same page within the discussion and that you understand not only what they are stating but the sentiments and intent driving them.


Don’t be shy to ask questions about any issue that is ambiguous or unclear. Asking open-ended, clarifying and probing questions are important devices to draw people out and encourage them to expand their ideas. The details of a message are often defined here, and as it is stated in so many cases, divinity resides in the details.


Restating that portion of the conversation again, as the conversation has proceeded, confirms and solidifies your understanding of the other person’s view and returns the conversation back to where it was prior to the reflection or clarification process. Ask them to do the same, so that you know they received your message regarding any clarification as well.


Actively listening is first about understanding your partner, then being understood. As you gain a clear comprehension of your partner’s perspective can you then introduce your ideas, feelings, sentiments or opinions and be well received.

Arguably the most important trait for a leader and a man is the ability to communicate effectively and in today’s knowledge economy this requires and demands a vastly heightened sense of emotional intelligence prior to doing so. It goes beyond mastering the craft of language, but attitude and actions of effective listening, that send powerful messages for forging collaboration, team building and consensus building within any relationship structure, none more critical and important than your intimate and romantic one, your life-partner.