What is the essence of conflicts
In the book Practical Conflictology: From Confrontation to Cooperation, psychiatrist and psychologist Viktor Ponomarenko says that the essence of any conflict lies in the lack of resources. This applies to political confrontations, and to confrontations in business and at work, and to constant quarrels in the family.
Moreover, resources are not only money or products. It can be attention, care, time or something else.
To remain viable, any partnership needs equal input from the parties. In other words, if one person contributes and the other only takes, the relationship is doomed to failure.
At the heart of any conflict lies the realization of an objective fact – the partnership has ceased to be promising, it does not contribute, but hinders the development of the people included in it, and therefore, it must be destroyed.
Victor Ponomarenko, “Practical Conflictology”
Initially, two people strive for a relationship in order to improve the quality of life, but many problems or crises lie in wait for them along the way.
How people build relationships and why crises occur
To clearly explain how any relationship develops, a graph is given in the book of Viktor Ponomarenko.
When everything is just beginning, a person is at the Q mark0 – the quality of his life is unsatisfactory and changes are required. The resulting relationship improves the well-being of both partners, their potential for adaptation to this life grows, and both feel the need to continue.
At the moment t1, the partners are attractive and significant to each other, they invest all the resources in the union and increase the overall potential.
After that, as a rule, there comes a plateau. Everything is smooth in the relationship: the quality of life is at the same level, it does not grow, but it does not fall either. And then a problem arises – an urgent task for which the partners do not have enough resources.
It could be the birth of a child, the need to buy new furniture or an expansion of a home, the possibility of a promotion that takes longer, or something else.
From this point on, the relationship can go two ways. If the partners become active and together decide how to get rid of the problem, equally investing resources, their union will grow stronger, and the quality of life will increase.
If they do not come up with something good, a crisis will come and the quality of life will go down. At this point, conflict will arise.
How do people behave during conflict?
Often people, instead of overcoming the crisis, decide that the relationship has become obsolete. It doesn’t have to happen consciously, though. It’s just that a person, instead of bringing resources to the union, begins to withdraw them and spend them on the side.
Thus, conflict is the destruction of a social group and the division of resources that will be useful for building new relationships. There are several styles of doing it:
- Competition – the struggle for the right to own resources, which is carried out to the bitter end.
- fixture – renunciation of claims in favor of the other party.
- Evasion – an attempt to avoid conflict, such as sullen silence.
- Compromise – partial concessions of the parties.
- Cooperation – search for the causes of the conflict and methods for its solution.
Only the last style can lead to the preservation of relationships, and everything else is just a way to “pull” resources.
On the segment of the graph t2 – t3, the partners still hope to maintain relations, they exchange mutual claims, quarrel, demand active action. However, the quality of life still remains higher than before living together, and therefore the union is preserved.
If they do not use the technique of cooperation and do not find how to fix the situation, the conflict can reach the point t4, when life without each other is better than together. At this point, the relationship is broken.
Why is it important to resolve conflicts
Victor Ponomarenko says that each person has several competencies – areas of responsibility in which he acts. For example, “parent” includes the birth of children and the creation of conditions for their growth and adaptation in society, and “employee” – the performance of their labor duties.
A competent person is one who can realize himself in his area of responsibility and achieve the goal that it defines. That is, a parent can raise a healthy and happy child, a dog owner can walk a pet and not lose it in the process, an employee can master a new technology that is needed for high labor productivity.
Incompetence, on the contrary, makes it difficult to live and achieve goals, and it is precisely this that is the cause of crises. When a problem arises, as a rule, one of the partners is losing ground. He is the weak link in the union and pulls the relationship to the bottom.
In such a situation, a “strong” participant may recognize the partner as incompetent and destroy the relationship by looking for interesting people for himself.
The problem is that only conflict resolution can increase the competence of both participants. When you stop communicating and start looking for a new partner, you lose the opportunity to become stronger and enter into a new relationship with the same load.
As an example, Viktor Ponomarenko cites the story of a young businessman who, after the birth of his daughter, lost his sexual desire for his wife. He began to spend more time at work, so that there was an excuse to evade intimate relationships, and then he took a mistress.
Having withdrawn from the upbringing of his daughter, the man became a weak link in the relationship – he could not acquire the competence of a parent and fell back to the role of a lover. If the conflict is not resolved and the marriage collapses, the man will be able to find another woman and find happiness again. But, most likely, only until she gives birth to a child for him, and then the cycle can repeat itself.
Thus, unresolved conflicts can haunt a person all his life, moving from one relationship to another. But in order to solve them, first of all, it is necessary to determine who is losing ground, and then help him regain strength.
How to resolve any conflict
When confronted with any conflict, there are three main questions to ask:
- Which of the participants in the relationship is the least competent, “weak” partner?
- What is the reason for his weakness? What led to her?
- How to use the potential of a “strong” partner in order to eliminate the cause of the incompetence of the “weak” one and help him overcome the backlog?
In the book, Viktor Ponomarenko talks about conflict resolution using the example of an adult brother and sister relationship. Thirty-year-old Sergei lost his job and family.
Attempts to find a new place in his rare craft specialty did not yield results, as a result, he divorced his wife and moved out of her apartment to his parents’ three-ruble house. His older sister Katya also lived there with her ten-year-old son.
At first, Sergei helped her around the house and did homework with her nephew, and she provided for him, because she was a valuable specialist and received well. The sister also tried to find a job for Sergei, but all the offers did not suit him, and in the end he began to react sharply to them.
It was not possible to find a suitable place, and Sergey became more and more discouraged. He stopped looking for work and helping with the housework, lay on the couch with a book all day long, and Katya had to provide for two adults, and even do all the household chores.
If we parse this conflict using three questions, we get the following:
- The weak participant is Sergey.
- He is unemployed, does not satisfy the needs for self-realization and social environment. He is confused and depressed.
- Katya is a strong partner, which means she can help Sergey become competent again.
In our example, Katya tried to find a job for Sergey, but nothing came of it. And the problem was not that the brother was lazy, unpromising and generally a parasite. Everyone craves recognition and self-realization, no one wants to lie on the couch in depression all day.
It’s just that Katya offered him the wrong classes in which he could be realized, and this manifested her own incompetence.
The problem was solved in a different way. Katya invited her colleagues to dinner, and for the first time Sergey showed some interest in life. He cleaned himself up, helped her get ready, and met her friends. In the future, he began to participate in their gatherings.
Thanks to this, he again felt himself a necessary, worthy member of society. After some time, Sergei found a job, gave his sister money from the first paycheck, and then rented a place for himself and moved out. Their relationship continued, and Katya got a reliable ally in case she needed help.
What is important to know about conflicts between generations
The same principles apply in any contacts: between parents and children, adults and elderly parents, or eternal participants in jokes – mother-in-law and son-in-law.
Below we give a few examples from the book that well demonstrate the causes and ways to resolve family conflicts.
Parents and children
The main goal of parents is to raise children who can adapt to life and be happy. The main goal of children is to grow up to be such adults. Thus, there can be no conflicts in this regard.
Crises arise when parents are not competent enough in education. For example, they do not see what children are inclined to and in what they can show themselves to the fullest, and they stubbornly try to impose an inappropriate profession or lifestyle on them.
As in the example with Katya, who tried to get Sergei a job that was not suitable for him. Children, of course, will protest against such a turn, which will inevitably lead to quarrels.
Adults are a strength, so resolving conflicts with children always requires them to be sensitive and wise.
Adults and elderly parents
It is important to consider one fact: only what a person gives right now matters. Past merits are kept in memory, but they do not provide a sincere attitude. If a person does not invest anything, then he becomes a burden.
Unfortunately, this often happens to elderly parents. Retirement, reduction of affairs and social contacts makes them weak. If at the same time people do not invent new activities for themselves, but try to interfere in the lives of grown children, conflicts are inevitable.
To solve this problem, adult children – a forte – must help parents find new activities and become useful again. It can be caring for grandchildren, some activities during which older people can communicate with others and be useful.
Frequent hostility between mother-in-law and son-in-law or daughter-in-law and mother-in-law is quite easy to explain. The new person takes away the main wealth from the family – the child, in which so much time, effort and money have been invested. Moreover, the usual family structure is changing and you have to get used to its new composition.
And good relations are possible only when both parties make a feasible contribution to the prosperity of the family. Parents will provide relevant and desired assistance, children will respond to them with attention and care.
Often in such conflicts, young people are the strong side. So, it is they who must find how to help the parents of a spouse become competent in a new role.