Some strategies to handle disagreements and conflicts

When I think about the relationship between my older sister and me, I also think about the way we handle disagreements and conflict.   We are both strong willed and as children we fought constantly because we both were unwilling to give in or back down for the other.  Over the years, we have both learned to resolve our conflicts more productively.  I realized that my lack of patience and unwillingness to talk about issues was a problem on my part. I had always been known as a child who did not like conflict and so it made me lazy when it came to dealing with situations where conflicts arose.  I also did not like to give in if I believed something was unfair, so rather than talking it through I ended up yelling because I was impatient and frustrated that the little I had said was not being understood. 

On the other hand, I realized after a long time that my sister was afraid of being disregarded or put aside as irrelevant or unimportant. She constantly made comments like she was being devalued and that we did not think what she said was of any importance.  I did not hear her needs but felt like “Here she goes again being angry, upset and violent.  Over the years I have learnt to listen to her and see what is making her upset without allowing the anger and her raised voice to distract me.  I came to realize that once I acknowledge that I hear her concern it sends her a message that she is seen and heard and makes the conflict have a resolution. Recently, I have had the feeling that she hears me for the most part, in areas where I feel like she is still maintaining her stance and not budging to understand my point of view, in those situations I tell myself she does not mean any harm and she just can’t see it at the time.  I sometimes look for a better time when the argument has cooled off and that works most of the time.  This week listening to Marshall Rosenberg has helped me to see that we could be communicating based on a learned negative pattern where we look for the negative aspects in each other rather than looking for the good in each other.  Looking for the need of the other person and then finding fulfillment in meeting that need is a deeply satisfying feeling.  According to O Hair et al, 2016, Difference in opinion and clashing goals are inevitable in any relationship. But how the partners handle the disagreements that arise determine whether their bond will grow stronger (Silas & Canary, 2013).


O’Hair, D., Wiemann, M., Mullin, D. I., & Teven, J. (2018). Real communication: An introduction (4th. ed). New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

Chapter 9, “Managing Conflict in Relationships”

YouTube. (2006). Nonviolent communication, Part 1, Marshall Rosenberg. Retrieved from