Disagreements occur in all loving relationships. If you do not resolve these differences, the love between you and your partner will gradually erode. Trivial incidents will trigger these negative feelings again, and your feelings will be right at the edge. The different personality types deal with conflicts in different ways, but they argue in the same defensive style they use to handle their emotions.

You may use certain emotional styles on some issues and a different style on other issues. The best thing is to know yourself and your reactions under different circumstances and to observe your mate as well.

How Different Personality Types Handle Conflict

When faced with conflicts, the dependent person flaunts his weaknesses and hides his strengths. He wants his partner to feel sorry for him. He is reluctant to acknowledge that the problem exists. Once he does, he too easily admits the fault is his. He complains his partner is cruel and unfeeling. He wants everything to return to the way it was and doesn’t really want to work out the problem.

The controlling person hides his weaknesses and bullies his partner. He tries to make his partner feel helpless without him. He sees the problem first and points it out to his partner after getting his alibi straight so it doesn’t seem that he was at fault. He accuses his partner of being wrong and causing the problem. He calls his partner disobedient. Only when his mate becomes obedient again will the problem be solved. He may become even more rigid in his rules after a conflict.

The competitive person exaggerates her strengths. She tries to make her partner worry that she will leave him. She accuses her partner of preferring another person and being disrespectful and unappreciative. She threatens to leave her mate and has no desire to solve the problem.

The mature person seeks to understand the truth of the situation. She works with her partner to define and solve the problem. She admits to being at fault if that is appropriate and accepts her role in the problem. She gives her partner the benefit of the doubt. She draws her partner out and gives it her best effort to solve the problem so that both partners benefit.

Tips for Dealing with Conflict in an Effective Manner

The most important thing to do in a conflict is to express your feelings clearly and directly without hurting your partner, yourself, or the relationship. Here are some guidelines in dealing with conflict assertively and effectively. These work best when they are understood by both you and your partner. Either partner can initiate this method of dealing with conflicts.

• Choose the specific incident to bring up. Make sure this is what you are truly angry about. If not, discover what is underneath your anger. Decide whether you are overreacting. Figure out exactly what the behavior is that you want to see changed.

• If this is an incident that is important to you, bring it up sooner rather than later.

• Arrange a specific time for an hour or so to talk. Set a specific time with your mate in a private place.

• Clearly state what behaviors you don’t like. Be specific and precise in your description of the behavior. Don’t exaggerate. Bring up only one thing at this session. Talk only about your partner’s behavior, not his personality. Don’t generalize by saying, “You never...” or “I’m always...”

• Share your feelings openly and honestly, and accept responsibility for your feelings. Don’t blame your partner, call her names or denounce her. Don’t bring up old hurts or mistakes.

• Know your partner’s emotional limits and stay within those limits. Avoid critical comments that are so painful that it makes your partner cry, counterattack, stop listening, think about leaving, or hate you. Ask your partner to signal when you are “touching a raw nerve.”

• Ask your partner to listen and paraphrase what you are saying.

• If your partner swears, cries, screams, or defends herself, view this as a prelude to solving the problem and making up. Remain interested in resolving the conflict. Don’t stonewall your partner or pretend not to care.

• State what specific behavioral changes you would like to see made. Ask for practical, possible and fair changes. Avoid making outrageous demands. Be specific and not vague and ask for changes that are doable.

• Indicate the reasons and consequences for the requested changes. Give your arguments for the changes you are proposing. Tell him how you will feel and what you will do if the changes are made and if they are not made. Mention rewards as well as punishments.

• If your partner asks for this discussion and tells you what changes he wants to see, let your first response be an attempt to understand your partner’s perceptions. Be an active listener by expressing back to your partner what you understand his thoughts and feelings to be. If you were wrong, admit it.

• Negotiate a compromise. Express your interest in coming to a solution that is satisfactory to both of you. Discuss each other’s perceptions to see why your partner sees things so differently from you. Consider different options from many sides of the issue. Work towards a fair, workable agreement. Plan to have a trial period for testing out the agreement. If the feelings are too intense for a rational discussion, schedule the negotiating for a later time. Do not just drop the issue and argue about it again later.

• It’s best to have the final compromise written down, dated and signed by both people.

• Put the incident behind you. Forgive each other. Show appreciation to the other person for working it out.

Conflict is sure to happen in all relationships. Dealing with these conflicts successfully will help build a stronger relationship and help you have more confidence that you can create a win-win situation for both of you.

Author's Bio: 

Vivian Harte is the co-author of Self-Esteem for Dummies in the Dummies series. She has helped over 12,000 people learn and use assertiveness skills during the last 14 years. She teaches online classes on assertiveness, self-confidence, and teamwork. She has a Bachelors degree in Sociology and a Masters degree in Public Administration. She taught college classes for many years in Tucson, Arizona. She has two grown children who are both successful. She lives in Tucson with her husband, three dogs and two cats.

She offers kits with articles, guided visualizations, and songs as well as online courses, group coaching and 1-on-1 coaching, and you can find out more about these at her website, self-esteem-for-me.com. Discover how to improve your relationships and be more assertive by downloading her free kits Create Self-Confidence in Relationships and Develop Assertiveness for Strength!