couple after quarrel

Conflict Resolution

...through Improved Communication Skills.

To understand how to improve the way in which you deal with conflict with your partner, it is first necessary to identify your communication style. There are three main styles of communication and most people tend to favour one style, the majority of the time. These are known as:

  • Aggressive
  • Non – assertive or passive
  • Assertive

The Identifying Characteristics of Aggressive Communicators:

  1. They put self first/ hurt others
  2. The aggressive person often has low self esteem
  3. They have no or little respect for anyone
  4. There are four types of aggressive behaviour; verbal, non – verbal, passive & displaced

The Identifying Characteristics of Non – assertive Communicators:

  1. They put self last
  2. The non – assertive person also has low self esteem
  3. They have a lack of self respect or self value
  4. They practice limiting beliefs/ set things up for failure
  5. There are often pay offs/ rewards for continuing this style of communication

The Identifying Characteristics of Assertive Communicators:

  1. They treat others as equals
  2. The assertive person has high/ healthy self esteem
  3. They have respect for others & their self
  4. They honestly expresses thoughts, feelings & needs

Conflict within a relationship can successfully be dealt with, only in an assertive fashion. There is no place for resolution of conflict by behaving or communicating either aggressively or passively.

How do Assertive People Communicate?

  1. They speak only for themselves, e.g. they don’t say ‘you make me feel.’ No-one can make you feel an emotion, it is a choice of responses
  2. They use the words ‘I, me or mine’ when explaining how they feel or what they need
  3. They make comfortable eye contact
  4. They have a comfortable body posture
  5. They don’t give confusing messages, e.g. body language and words match
  6. They listen to what the other person is saying
  7. The tone of voice and volume of speaking, is appropriate and non inflammatory

Learning to successfully deal with conflict within a relationship, takes practice! I usually recommend to couples that they take time out several times a week to learn how to do this. It is best to set aside a time when both parties involved in the discussion, are not too tired or stressed, usually at the end of the day after dinner, children in bed, dishes done etc. Each person will take a turn to speak, up to 10 minutes at a time, without interruption from the other, speaking assertively about one issue at a time. After they have finished, the partner can speak under the same guidelines and then take turns until the issue is either dealt with or it is necessary to take time out.

Basic Rules of Conflict Resolution:

For both the Speaker & the Listener:

  • Remain calm – don’t over react to situations
  • Express feelings in words, not actions
  • Be specific about what is bothering you
  • No ‘hitting below the belt’
  • Avoid accusations or abuse
  • Don’t generalise
  • Don’t ‘stockpile’ complaints
  • Avoid clamming up or going silent, two way communication is essential
  • Discuss only one issue at a time
  • Schedule a time that you both agree is okay – not when you are already tired or upset
  • Hear each other out before trying to solve the problem
  • Take turns to hold the floor – agree a timeframe for this before you start
  • Call time out if one of you becomes upset or angry and reschedule a time to continue


  • Attend to and encourage your partner
  • Don’t interrupt!
  • Hear your partner out fully
  • Give feedback to check your understanding
  • Reserve judgement
  • Don’t prepare your response whilst your partner is talking


  • Use ‘I’ statements
  • Own your feelings
  • Provide specific descriptions of problem behaviour
  • Make specific requests for change
  • Stay in the present
  • Complain but don’t blame
  • Describe what is happening, don’t evaluate or judge
  • Be clear
  • Be polite
  • Be appreciative

These rules may seem self evident but in times of conflict it is easy to overlook them. When trying to change the ways with which you deal with conflict, practice makes perfect!

We are going real well, probably better than we ever expected.

I personally thank you for making such a difference to my life and I know (S) feels the same.
Galah couple eating
from QLD
Your workshop was great for us and was what we needed to make a fresh start and turn our relationship around.

We'd recommend your workshop to any couple who are in trouble and want to rekindle their love!

Thanks again Carole
Galah Couple
J & M
from NSW

© Carole Kelly

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Carole's workshops are Covid Safe
Carole’s workshops are Covid Safe

Please note;

I am able to offer workshops to couples who are both fully vaccinated, or have official exemptions.

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