If you are reading my blog and have not figured out what a huge fan of lists I am, then I don’t know what you have even been doing here. But all jokes aside, I have found that a bullet point list is a really great way to improve your approach to conflict and to better communication in any relationship.
The first key to applying this method? A bullet-point list. Just joking! First and most importantly, you need to work on not immediately bringing up a problem when it upsets you. It is not easy, but I assure you that it is a skill that you can learn. Give yourself the time and space to actually process the thoughts you have, rather than just immediately addressing the emotions that take over. Maybe it helps if you repeat this to yourself: you cannot control what happens or how you feel about it, but you are in complete control of how you react to it (this one has helped me a lot!). Check out the Toolbox, for tools on handling difficult emotions!
Do not forget to actually write down what it is that upset you and what it made you feel in the moment. You will want to make sure that you actually address problems in your relationship, not just sweep them under the rug. But you want to address them in a constructive way and not in a screaming match.
After you have allowed your emotions to settle down, then you can write the issues in a bullet point list. Why a bullet point list? Because it will help you organise your thoughts and not fall back into saying things you might regret. Really put some thought into how you formulate the items on the list. After all, you want to make sure that the problem is addressed and remedied, not that you just rage on or make your partner feel bad, right?
- Reformulate everything on the list with I-statements.
- Keep the points short (no longer than 2 lines of writing per bullet point should be more than enough).
- Include a rating system for each problem (maybe one frowny face is a mild annoyance, but three frowny faces is a real deal breaker).
- Read the list in a calm and collected manner.
- Read it slowly and allow your partner time to process each item on the list.
- Ask for their opinion and find out how that particular issue is seen from their point of view.
- Reassure them, as many times as it is needed, that you are not there to fight them or prove they are a bad person. All you want is to find ways to improve your relationship.
I hope this geeky obsessive method of fixing problems might come to your aid. It has greatly improved my way of resolving conflict!