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During stressful times, individuals with anxiety and depression are prone to an intensification of symptoms and oftentimes find themselves in conflict with others. Here are some tips to deal with conflict:

  • Act honestly and directly toward others.
  • Face the problem openly, rather than avoiding or hiding from it.
  • Avoid personal attacks; stick to the issues.
  • Emphasize points of agreement as a foundation for discussion of points of argument.
  • Employ a "rephrasing" style of communication; to be sure you understand each other. ("Let me see if I understand you correctly. Do you mean??").
  • Accept responsibility for your own feelings ("I am angry!" not "You made me mad!").
  • Avoid a "win-lose" position. The attitude that "I am going to win, and you are going to lose" will more likely result in both losing. If you stay flexible, both can win - at least in part.
  • Gain the same information about the situation. Because perceptions so often differ, it helps to make everything explicit.
  • Develop goals which are basically compatible. If we both want to preserve the relationship more than to win, we have a better chance!
  • Clarify the actual needs of both parties in the situation. I probably don't need to win. I do need to gain some specific outcome (behavior change by you, more money), and to retain my self-respect.
  • Seek solutions rather than deciding who is to blame.
  • Agree upon some means of negotiation or exchange.
  • Negotiate toward a mutually acceptable compromise, or simply agree to disagree.

Adapted from Your Perfect Right: Assertiveness and Equality in Your Life and Relationships, by Robert E. Alberti, Ph.D., and Michael L. Emmons, Ph.D.

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