Handling conflict in relationships


So yesterday I broke a long silence on talking about relationships on this blog.

It was the first part of an ongoing commitment to writing about topics on this blog that I don’t necessarily know a lot about but which a) definitely impact on students and b) I should know more about.

In what I think is an example of the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, I now can’t not notice information and ideas about relationships. Listening to a podcast this morning, a brief relationship intervention was discussed that I thought was worthy of a quick post.

The intervention was discovered as part of a longitudinal study of married couples.

The intervention involves a simple perspective taking exercise when conflict arises. I’ve spoken about similar perspective taking mind hacks before.

In a conflict, ask yourself the following three questions:

1) How would you explain the fight from the perspective of a neutral third-party who just wants the best for everyone?

2) What obstacles would you encounter when trying to adopt this perspective? and

3) How would you surmount these obstacles?

Interestingly, the hack doesn’t involve taking the perspective of the other person, but instead of a neutral third party, who we would assume would try to find a middle ground between the two arguments. The questions then focus your mental efforts on what it would take to achieve this perspective, rather than arguing your own perspective.

You can watch the creator of this intervention speak about it in this poorly filmed Ted Talk (see below).

Note that whilst it is called a ‘marriage hack’, the idea is this kind of intervention has benefits in any long-term relationship.

If you want to read more about this hack, Google ’21 minutes to save a marriage’ as lots of sites discussed this finding in 2013/2014 when it first came out.

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Life Skills Lifehacks

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