10 Steps to Handle Relationship Conflicts

By K. Stone

February 19, 2008   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

Every relationship experiences some conflict. Some experience more than others, some are playful, and some are hateful. Then there are those that are never ending patterns of conflict that seem impossible to break.

If you do want to stop the cycle of conflict, consider these 10 steps to bring harmony back to your relationship. Note that this doesn’t only apply to parents and girlfriends, these can apply to conflicts at work as well.

  1. Cool Down Time. If you’ve found yourself in a heated argument, the best thing you can do is walk away for a little while. Blow off some steam with a walk or by talking things out with a clear headed friend. If you just need some rest, take a nap or a meditation nap.

Before going separate ways, take a deep breath and agree to discuss the issue later. The whole goal of separating should be to come back together with a better ability to work things out.


  • Mutual Respect. No matter how divided you are in your positions, always remember the humanity of the other person. Keep in mind their weaknesses and frailties. Think about the respect you want and then give it unconditionally to the other person. Be kind even if you are angry. If that makes you cry instead of screaming, you’ll probably find that yourself getting closer to the true root of the issue. When you get to the root, you can start solving things.



  • Start with Yourself. Ask yourself what part of the argument is your responsibility. How did you contribute to this argument? What can you do to resolve it? Do you need to apologize? Do you know how? This video taught me the 3 steps to a proper apology:


  • I’m sorry.
  • It was my fault.
  • How can I make it right again?


  • What’s It All About?From your perspective, what is the argument really about? What would the other person say the argument is about? What common goals do you both share that could be used as a vehicle to reach a resolution?



  • Needs vs. Wants. Figure out what it is that you want. Then ask yourself, “what do I really need?” Go for what you need and be flexible on your wants. A need is something you can’t live without and a want is more of a preference. A resolution doesn’t mean you get everything you want, but hopefully you get everything that you need. If you can’t get what you need then you may need to re-evaluate the relationship.



  • Compassion and Empathy. How is the other person feeling? How would it feel to be in their shoes? Be honest. What are their fears behind the anger? Focus on the good qualities in the other person and consider what their goals are.



  • Wisdom and Strengths. What are the best qualities of this person? What wisdom do they possess? Everyone is smart about something. How can you tap into that wisdom to help you move forward out of conflict? What can you learn from your partner?



  • Better to Be Happy than to Be Right. Conflict can be hurtful and damaging to a relationship when allowed to run wild. Take a step back to view the big picture. What do you really want? What is your goal?At the end of your life, how will you view this argument? What will you wish you did? How can you emerge from this conflict and return to a light and peaceful state?



  • Mutual Caring. What good things do you want for your partner? How can you help that person get what they need while you get what you need, either actively or by taking a step back?



  • Good Times Together. Often we can get into a pattern of conflict with partners and friends when we are not finding time to share fun together. So once the immediate conflict is resolved or at least semi-resolved, take some action that will have long-term benefits. Schedule in fun time together on a regular basis. A good place to start is once a week. Designate this time to be “Fun Time Only” together. No discussion of trigger topics, just fun. Enjoy!


How do you resolve conflicts? What’s the best way you know to maintain harmony in a relationship? We look forward to hearing from you!

Written by K. Stone of Life Learning Today.

K. Stone

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