Relationships – one word that brings to mind love, laughter, tears, fun and jeers. But where there’s love, there’s also conflict. Conflict is almost intrinsic to relationships. Despite all the love, we find ourselves struggling in several of our relationships – especially those within our families. Even the art of storytelling uses it as a central motif. Fairy tales and mythologies have time and again demonstrated this recurring theme. For instance, Cinderella and Snow White had evil stepmothers, the Hindu epic Mahabharata saw the great war between Kauravas and Pandavas, and the Norse gods Loki and Thor could never see eye to eye.
However, renouncing a legacy or setting up a huge war might not be the wisest thing to do today. Having a straightforward dialogue would be more like it. So how do we diffuse tense family conflicts? Let’s find out.
Lend an ear
Imagine this: At a family gathering, skeletons get dragged out of the closet. Issues that were considered insignificant before, suddenly stare you in the face.
This can happen when people carry baggage from before. Maybe, if we let each other vent out our feelings–hopefully privately–an impending scene might be avoided. Initiate a dialogue and nip all misunderstandings in the bud before things get out of hand.
Hold back a retort
Picture this: It’s been a long, tiring day, and all you need is 15 minutes of solitude. Someone starts lecturing you on work-life balance, most likely with a good intention. However, the timing is not right and you want to snap.
One way to diffuse the situation is to hold back a retort. Instead, calmly let them know that you are extremely tired and will be happy to have this discussion later. When the person sees there is no negative reaction from your side, they will back off too. There are times when you are at the end of your rope and a conflict is likely to arise, but on other days it can be avoided.
Let it slide
Here’s another scenario: Some in your family does not appreciate your life choices–often citing your pets or your travel expenses as examples. You keep overhearing gossip about yourself from someone or the other.
While people might do this to seek attention at times, more often than not it is simply a difference of opinion. The trick here is to let it slide. Sometimes, an altercation or dragging a conversation can actually blow things out of proportion.
Whether you like it or not your family is part of you and you are part of them. It is always easier to give up on people, but when we do that, we give up on much more. We give up on our memories, our identity and the warmth of having a family.
So, don’t quit on your family, because they certainly won’t.