Canyon Ranch Blog

Resolving Conflict Effectively

We rarely seek out conflicts, but they are a part of life. Most of us would prefer to avoid them if given the choice, and that is understandable. But if you’ve ever done so you know that skirting an argument can only cause tension to linger. Small issues can build and mounting stress can affect not only your mind but your body. Dealing with the problem can lead to far better outcomes and may even improve your relationship with the person you’re fighting with—even if it doesn’t seem that way.

“A lot of people are afraid to argue with someone they care about because they think it’s going to destroy the relationship,” says Jeffrey Rossman, Ph.D., director of life management at Canyon Ranch in Lenox, Mass. “But if you look at it as an opportunity to work through something difficult and be honest with one another, it really is a way to strengthen your connection.”

Of course, simply having it out isn’t likely to get you closer to where you want to be, as any blow-up in your past can probably attest. A constructive argument is what is most productive. These strategies may help you approach your next conflict in the most effective way:
Put Blame Aside

“When something goes wrong, our natural human tendency is to blame somebody,” says Rossman. “But, instead, if we ask ourselves, What did I do to contribute to this situation? and What did they do that led us here?, it evens the playing field.” Try your best not to point fingers. Remember that the ultimate goal is not to “win” but to move beyond the conflict in a healthy way.
Set Up a Time to Talk

Timing is key when it comes to discussing a difficult situation. “So many arguments end up getting worse because one person is not ready to have the conversation or give it the attention it deserves,” says Rossman. When possible, express the need to schedule a talk: There’s something important I want to discuss with you. When are you free? Making it clear that this discussion warrants its own time can make a difference in how the other person engages with you when the conversation finally happens.
Actively Listen

“Some people just want to get the conflict over with,” notes Rossman, “but there’s the preliminary step of mutual listening that needs to happen in order for you both to understand all the feelings involved.” Being a good listener involves not just hearing the other person’s words, but putting your thoughts and judgments aside so that you can better process (and respect) his or her point of view. Show that you’re engaged in what is being said by repeating back what you were told: So, what I’m hearing is that you didn’t appreciate me making plans without discussing it with you first. You’ll likely get the same in return. Practicing these skills when you’re not in the middle of an argument can help you engage them when you need them.
Ask Questions

As you try to fully grasp the other person’s standpoint, don’t be shy about inquiring about information that may help you gain more clarity. Dig deeper with questions that require more than a yes or no answer, like: How did you feel when that happened? or What would you like to see as an outcome? You may unearth details that get you closer to a resolution—or even clear up a potential misunderstanding that could be at the root of your argument.
Maintain Your Composure

In the heat of an argument, it’s easy to become defensive, angry, even anxious. Though it may seem impossible to do in the moment, “maintaining some degree of calmness will help you better articulate your side of the story,” notes Rossman. That said, some people find yelling cathartic, though it’s rare. Most people find yelling to be counterproductive because the emotional pitch gets too high to have a constructive give and take. “Still, there are couples, friends or siblings that can really go at it knowing that all this screaming is intended to bring everyone to a better understanding,” adds Rossman. Remember, though, it takes both people to embrace that degree of emotional intensity for it to end well.
Choose Your Words Wisely

Of course what you actually say determines if it’s a worthwhile discussion, too. Try to slow things down to allow yourself time to think through what you want to say. Starting statements with words like I think… or I feel… can help you express your thoughts without pointing fingers. Aggressive communication can quickly escalate an argument and lead to exaggerations and accusations.

Take a Step Back

While you may sometimes simply agree to disagree during petty squabbles, successfully working through something more major doesn’t allow for a stalemate. Take stock of how important the issue is to you. Focusing on the value of ending things well can reinvest you in the resolution-finding process and help you look beyond temporary anger at the bigger picture.
Let It Go
Sometimes things happen that are irreconcilable, so hurtful that you can’t get past it. Holding on to that type of conflict can be toxic to your health—especially if the other person has moved on. In fact, over time, it transforms into a conflict you’re having with yourself. “Forgiveness, though it’s difficult, can free you of that,” says Rossman. “You can give yourself permission to move on.”

Whole Beauty Is…Using Your Voice
Expressing yourself is a wonderful way to bring to light the attractiveness that lies ...
Read More
On-the-Spot Ways to Deal with Anger
These 5 tips can help you nip anger in the bud and prevent it from escalating
Read More
What Is Cortisol?
Learn how this stress hormone can go from helpful to harmful when it’s stuck on ...
Read More
8 Ways to Reach Your Healthy Weight and Stay There
Find out if you’re doing all that you can to achieve your goals
Read More
10 Ways to Boost Your Immune System
Do what you can to keep your body's natural defense strong
Read More
Massage for Pain Relief
Learn which type of rubdown is best for what’s hurting you
Read More
Managing Seasonal Lows
If you suffer from winter sadness, try these ways to lift your spirits
Read More
Spirituality & Your Health: A Q&A with Dr. Finley
Nurturing this connection can support your wellness journey in powerful ways
Read More
11 Stress Relievers for a Healthier Brain
Sound strategies for managing negative thoughts and supporting positive brain changes
Read More
The Big Benefits of Losing Small Amounts of Weight
You'll reap rewards even before you reach your ultimate goal
Read More
15 Things You Can Do to Live Longer
Do what you can to maximize your odds for a longer and healthier life
Read More
7 Myths About Drinking
Learning the truth about alcohol can help you make healthier choices
Read More
Book Online or Contact Us
Book Now Contact Us

Questions & Reservations

Tucson, Arizona +1 800 742 9000
Lenox, Massachusetts +1 800 742 9000
Kaplankaya, Turkey
SpaClub®, Las Vegas +1 877 220 2688
Groups: +1 877 862 0583
SpaClub®, At Sea Queen Mary 2: +1 866 860 4662
Oceania Cruises: +1 877 329 1924
Regent Seven Seas: +1 877 329 1924
Celebrity Cruises: +1 844 860 4662