Conflicts involve not only what is expressed on the surface, but a myriad of emotions driving the real reason for the conflict. Many of us simply do not know how to approach a complicated conflict.
If you are ready to dialogue, that is wonderful. But you may find some resistance in your conflict partner.
Instead of trying to force him/her to talk, see if the below helps:
1. Apologize. For what? This gives you a chance to really look at the conflict. There is a good chance you have something to apologize for.
2. Ask them why they do not want to talk.
3. Do not judge the other person. Make them feel safe to talk to you.
4. Ask how else to solve the problem. Then, try that way together.
5. Agree on another time to talk.
6. Ask if the other person wants to spend some time not talking about problems, but instead just being positive and visualizing a positive future together. How would this future look? What would you be doing?
7. Start with smaller conflicts to solve before the bigger or deeper ones.
8. Remember to see the pure core of the person. See the fear in you, and in the other person, and feel compassion for both of you. You both need skills. Help each other develop those skills.
9. Talk first about needs, rather than getting into feelings first. The other person might feel more comfortable problem solving rather than discussing. At some point, as a separate conflict, or as part of this one, you can talk about needing your feelings to be heard and discussed.
10. Start the conversation with face-saving. "I am sure I have contributed to our conflicts and our not being able to talk well in some way. I want to do things a different way with you. I am sorry that I have cause you any pain that makes you not want to talk to me. I need your help. I promise to listen to you without judgement."
11. If all else fails, you need to get their attention. Some people need to know your boundaries in no uncertain terms. "We have talked about this before, this is not something I can live with, and you promised you would stop. I want to still be with you, but I feel we are not on the same page with what kind of relationship we want together. I want to stay with you, but I simply cannot if this is going to continue. How can we resolve this? I need to talk about it, and see if we can resolve this in a way that we can still be a couple."
12. Seek therapy or mediation services if needed.
Remember, it takes two to tango, and if you are in a conflict, like it or not, you have also contributed to the conflict, in some way. Conflict happens when needs collide, when we fight over scarce resources, or from a disagreement gone sour.
Even if you do not think so, something is holding the two of you back from dialogue. You can overcome this, with patience, questioning, and understanding. Good luck!
Beki Rosenthal, MPA, is an author, seminar teacher, and coach. Her book "Simple Conflict Resolution: Your 12-Day Journey to Change" is an easy-to-follow, self-help resource for anyone who wishes to change how they approach conflict. Visit www.bekirosenthal.com to sign up for the eNewsletter, read free articles, and learn more about coaching and seminars.