How to handle arguments at home?

In this Phase 2 (Heightened Alert), it has the same recipe of family drama as the Circuit-Breaker. Contact with the people in the household has prolonged as more of you stay, work and play at home due to the new restrictions. Very naturally, this may mean more fights as we step on each others' toes more often. You can't help but wonder:

How to defuse family conflicts during COVID-19?

To summarise, it is to have constructive communication. Here are 5 easy tips to strive to communicate constructively to defuse family conflicts.

1. Never say Never & Always avoid Always
2. Start with "I feel"
3. Focus on the problem
4. Apologise when needed and accept apologies gracefully.
5. Remember your love for them.

1. Never Say Never & Always avoid Always

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Tension arises when we say "you've never". Conflicts are always started when you say "You always ,,," The key lesson here is not to bring up the old scores during an argument. Remind yourself that past conflicts and dissatisfaction are not going to help with the situation. While the cause of the argument might be a problematic habit that one continues to commit, raising it here, in this manner, may be counterproductive. When we use "you", the tone and even the language become more accusatory, which could provoke the other party more. Adding "never" and "always" is adding insult to injury as it is calling out the person, with assumptions being made. So, instead, consider this.

2. Start with "I feel"

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Tell them how their actions make you feel and affect you adversely. This helps to shift the centre of the attention away from the person that you are having a conflict with, thus minimising further aggravation. Also, in getting vulnerable and speaking up, we want the other party to understand us. This can in turn, build trust.

Together with Tip #1, we strive to avoid blame, which has been described by Brene Brown as the "discharging of discomfort and pain". We want to be busy talking and listening so that we can empathise, not pinpointing whose at fault.

3. Focus on the solving the problem together

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Now, what you want to to do is to avoid having the same argument again and again. This means that looking at the problem as a team. What are the steps you and your family member can take together to avoid a similar situation? What are the rules that all of you need to abide by so that this situation will be the last of the kind? Work out ways to compromise and stick to it.

4. Apologise when needed and accept apologies gracefully.

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As humans, making mistakes is inevitable. So, the solution is simple: Take accountability of your own actions. Let the person that you realised that you made a mistake and that you are taking responsiblity. Show them that you value them more than your ego.

Similarly, for those on the receiving end, don't feel obligated to hold people accountable and punish them. A wise man once said, "love is about forgiving ... We can see past the mistakes that we make and find the better part in each other". Forgiveness allows you to not only deepen the connection that you have, it will allow you to move beyond the pain inflicted and heal and grow in the process.

5. Remember your love for them.

It's easy to forget how much you care but it is important to say "The last thing I want to is to hurt you". Remind each other that we are all in this together, and there is no problems that cannot be solved, unless you don't want to solve them as a team.

After all of these. you might even want to do an exercise on gratitude. In this study for couples, negative bias weighs in more than positive ones. To counter this, it's easy: Give your family members more credit. This means to give them credit when they deserve it and even give them more credit than they deserve. This improves satisfaction, and most importantly, decreases conflict.

How to tell your family that you love them after fights?

Still feel awkward to say "I love you" to your family? Get someone/something to do it for you! Why not get a Sendjoy video? Get a celebrity or content creator to say the 3 most difficult words in the world on your behalf.

If that doesn't interest you, a letter would be good too! Remember, if you love them, tell them because hearts are broken by words left unspoken. Here at Sendjoy, we want you to express better so you get to send joy to the people you are closest to (literally).

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Take care and stay safe.


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