We allowed them to propose a mutually fair distribution of chores and ever since, there have been no arguments over chores, whereas prior to this solution, it was a constant and repetitive source of perpetual conflict.
Obviously, this particular solution could just as easily have been resolved much earlier, saving everyone involved the frustration of having to perform hated chores, not to mention the general resentment ordinarily associated with the chore schedule and the malaise that often persisted within the family after drawing us in to calm them down.
Personal Intervention: My personal style of expressing anger is to become quiet initially, retreat to compose my thoughts and responses, and then seek resolution in a calm manner by discussing the issues without anger. My partner tends to respond to conflict by escalating his level of intensity in real time, preferring to "have it out" as soon as the issue arises.
Previously, this was an independent source of mutual frustration and it often exacerbated existing conflicts by introducing mutually incompatible desires with respect to discussing our differences. For him, to wait to discuss an issue of disagreement later instead of when it comes up is excruciating; for me, being forced to settle issues on the spot is equally uncomfortable.
In time, we settled on a compromise whereby we do not deprive each other of our respective comfort zones and neither of us is forced to adopt the other's preferred method of resolving conflicts. I allow him to express his position primarily for him to get things off his chest and so that he is not obligated to wait until I am ready for a full discussion before expressing himself. Meanwhile, he understands that I may choose not to respond at that moment, but that I will listen to his point-of-view, consider his perspective in my own time, and initiate a discussion to resolve the matter at a later time. The chief benefit of this particular formula is that it enables each of us to handle conflict in the way that is most natural and least uncomfortable for us without requiring the other to adopt a different way of expressing ourselves.
We have also discovered that that some of our previous arguments along this line were actually triggered by the power struggle and our refusal to acquiesce to each other's preference. It seems that ever since we decided to allow each other the opportunity to accommodate our natural preferences, both of us have become more flexible in that regard than either of us thought possible before.
For example, I have noticed that when I no longer have to argue for the right not to discuss something before I am ready to do so, the time between the initial conflict and my readiness to address it is shorter than the amount of time I needed when that right was not readily acknowledged. Likewise, now that my partner need not wait for me to be ready for a full discussion before getting his irritation off his chest, he seems to have developed much more patience in that regard. Sometimes, for example, he simply alerts me to the fact that there is an issue he wishes to discuss, outlines his position much more briefly, and then patiently waits for me to indicate my readiness for the discussion.
Resolution of Issues and Retrospective Analysis:
In principle, most of the resolutions that we devised within our family need not have been preceded by some of the prolonged periods of conflict that we endured over them before satisfactory resolution. Were we to encounter the same situations anew, we would, of course, seek to implement the solutions upon which we settled, but at the outset of conflict. However, since we are not professional psychologists, we did not solve our problems by applying concepts derived intellectually. Rather, our solutions evolved naturally as ad hoc measures suggested by circumstance and, even then, later than they could have, especially in retrospect.
Having already experienced the difference between dealing with conflicts as we used to approach them and handling them the way we learned to eventually, we now possess the awareness and the experience to avoid some of the obstacles, power struggles, and stylistic differences that accounted for much of our mutual frustration and which aggravated many situations beyond their original scope and intensity. In many respects, I have indeed managed to apply some of the lessons of dealing with family conflicts to other situations and relationships. For example, the issue of splitting up chores between two individuals based on their respective preferences and likes or dislikes for specific responsibilities is a model for avoiding (or quickly resolving) certain potential conflicts in the work environment. In my vocational capacity, I supervise several individuals within a team of professionals. Certain matters require attention on a regular basis and recur in cycles every fiscal year. My experiences at home with my sons and their household chores has suggested a similar approach at work when particular individuals strongly prefer to maintain responsibility for specific tasks over others while other members of the team have different preferences. Where possible and practical, I try to implement the same solution except that I prefer to do so without necessarily divulging my motive for assigning various responsibilities to members of my team. In the professional environment, my concern is that allowing subordinates to expect accommodations of this nature may undermine elements of my authority.
Therefore, I prefer to make the assignment without openly acknowledging my reasoning to those involved, even if they suspect the reason for their apparent "luck."
Similarly, my experiences settling the issue over stylistic differences in expression in response to conflict at home have increased my awareness of these types of idiosyncratic differences among coworkers. As a result, I now perceive more accurately what types of interactions or negotiations are natural to certain individuals. More importantly, doing so has enabled me to minimize the potential impact of several conflicts that had potential to escalate, but more by virtue of differences between the individuals involved in negotiation styles than by virtue of the substance of the actual argument.
The insight gleaned from my family relationships and the manner in which we eventually learned to negotiate differences at home have also provided me with the opportunity to assign team members to work tasks differently than I used to before. In the interest of efficiency, I have begun taking into account personal conversational styles and what I know about their respective compatibilities for resolving difficulties that sometimes arise even within the most professional environments among coworkers.
In this respect, what I focus on is less about the likelihood for conflict or the personal sentiments between and among various coworkers, but rather, what I have learned about their natural tendencies and responses to conflict once they materialize.
Previously, I made more of an effort to consider their sentiments about each other, which occasionally lead to disappointment on my part in the team's performance. I suppose the point here is that coworkers who genuinely like each other may sometimes encounter conflicts that can disrupt the work environment notwithstanding their general compatibility. On the other hand, what is sometimes more important than general compatibility is that their respective styles for approaching conflict are conducive to quick resolution and resumption of work. Conclusion: Conflict and mechanisms for its resolution have presented themselves in my life in several settings, but none more educational than those that arose repeatedly within my family. The primary way that family conflicts have benefited my personal and professional development relates to the methods that I have learned to anticipate their potential, minimize their intensity, and resolve them satisfactorily.
Secondarily, my response to conflicts at home have also provided significant insight into elements of my personal psychological tendencies, enabling me to become more introspective and to minimize any unnecessary exacerbation of issue-based conflict by introducing additional complications. Ultimately, I realize that life - both private and professional - always entails certain conflicts, but also, that responding to them appropriately and establishing mechanisms for their resolution is a more realistic goal than eliminating them altogether,…