“Relationships” Session 5: Communicating in Conflict
Read Chapter 7 of Keep Your Love On before beginning this lesson.
Think of conflict as an injury or disease in your relationship. If left untreated, it can cause incredible damage to your connection. But, if handled well, conflict—like an injury—can actually strengthen your relational dynamic once healing has been allowed to occur. Begin this study by asking yourself these questions:
1. How strong do I want my relational connections to be?
2. What tests might I be willing to face in order to improve my relational connection?
3. Take some time to thing about these questions, then set goals for improving your relationships. Discuss these goals with your group. Your group can help keep you accountable in pursuing these goals.
Fear and Pain
Conflict becomes dangerous and ugly when you respond our of fear or pain. When approaching conflict, you must be sure to engage your assertive communication skills. Remember the three common responses to fear discussed in Chapter 5? When fear is introduced to conflict, we tend to either: flight, fly, or freeze. All three of these responses to fear have the potential to damage your relationship if you let them.
1. Think about how you respond to fear in conflict. Which of these reactions do you tend to gravitate towards? What about your spouse / significant other? Knowing your natural responses to fear can help you understand how to avoid unhealthy conflict.
Rules of Engagement
In healthy conflict, it is essential that you establish some “rules of engagement.” Remember that YOU have the power to set boundaries that determine how many disrespectful, damaging, or unproductive exchanges you are willing to endure. In your conversations, take turns being the “speaker” and “listener.” The role of the speaker is to share information about themselves via “I messages,” while the listener’s role is to actively engage the conversation with clarifying questions.
1. How are your your listening skills? Are you willing to put them to the test?
2. Take some time to practice active and reflective listening in your small group. Take turns being the “speaker” and “listener.” If you are the listener, make sure to listen to needs.
2. If you haven’t already done so, take some time to discuss your rules of engagement with your spouse/significant other. Determine what kind of behaviors you consider to be “off limits” and stick to them during your next conflict. Discuss your rules with your small group.