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Conflicts are good: they help us define our boundaries. What isn’t good is the way we handle them.

You always hear about couples having their “first fight”. As you realise that you are actually separate from the other person, conflicts of individuality will arise...

Conflicts help us define our boundaries

What isn’t good is the way we handle them. Feeling that conflict is the enemy and that you must win at all costs will make you a reactor, seeing conflict as the bridge to a deep and more fulfilling relationship will make you a responder.

People who react are people who feel what they feel and then behave accordingly. Feel good and all is well, feel bad and “watch out!” People who react do the first thing that pops into their heads and it usually involves doing damage of some sort.

Reaction gets us into hot water most of the time

Most of our apologies are necessary because we reacted. Learning how to respond can bring a lot of peace into your life. A response is often decided before the phone call is made, or the person is approached. Deciding how you will behave in the traffic for instance is done long before you get into the car.

It sounds strange, but deciding how to behave in a conflict at a time when you feel resourceful, can save your bacon when you don’t have time to think.

Pride can get in the way of responding instead of reacting

Sometimes in order to respond we need to be able to say, “I don’t know, I will get back to you on that.” Pride gives us the need to be right, responding isn’t about being right, it’s about supporting the highest intention.

The most lethal thing in any relationship is the need to be right

We all have our conditions for victory in a conflict; for some people it is the annihilation of the other person, for others it’s the total avoidance of conflict, and still others need to be right whatever the cost.

What are your conditions for victory?

You get to choose them. Mine are: When the relationship is protected and the resolution is win win, with both parties benefiting, then I have victory.

Sometimes a win for me lies in simply valuing relationship over being right.

A thoughtful response can turn away anger, but reaction tends to be like fuel to the fire.

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