5 Conflict Resolution Techniques


  • “Explicit communication is the most important thing in all of repair. All of it. You must say it. You must not hint at it. You must not be passive aggressive. You must use the words to describe exactly how you felt and what your request is for next time.”
  • How do you repair your relationships after conflict? In this episode, learn powerful ways to resolve issues and build greater love in the process!
  • “Repair is resilience in a relationship.”
  • Open and clear communication is the most important thing when it comes to repairing relationships. Let today’s training empower you to improve your communication!
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[The following is the full transcript of this episode of The Brendon Show. Please note that this episode, like all TBS episodes, features Brendon speaking extemporaneously–he is unscripted and unedited. Filmed in one take, The Brendon Show has become one of the most viewed unscripted, direct-to-camera self-help series in the history of YouTube. It has also been the #1 Podcast in all of iTunes and is regularly in the top podcasts in Self-Help and Health categories around the globe. Subscribe to the free motivational podcast on iTunes or Stitcher.)

In relationships, repair is resilience.

Repair is resilience in a relationship.

What do I mean by that? Well, we think of perseverance in terms of resilience. I’m like, “Hm, no.” In relationships, it’s repair. The ability to repair conflict after it happens. To say you’re sorry, to apologize, to accept apologies, to fix the situation or understand that something happened and we didn’t want that to happen. Let’s try this next time. And allowing the ego to fade out of that to be able to say, “I’m sorry,” to be able to say, “I was wrong,” to be able to say, “You’re right,” to be able to say, “You know what, we didn’t want that together,” without the hatred or the blame is everything.

Denise said this morning, she says, “It’s so important to apologize, for the other to accept that apology, and for the two of you decide to move on.”

1. Have Both Parties Apologize

I love that, right? It’s like, okay, apologize. The other person’s got to go, “I hear you apologizing, I appreciate that you’re apologizing. Thank you for owning that. What can we do better next time so we don’t run into that?” And moving it from problem focus to solution focus. Moving it from blame and upset to the next thing. That’s so important. That’s what I mean by repair.

People have to learn how to repair when they mess up together.

And you have to anticipate, we’re all going to mess up together. I mess up all the time personally, in all areas of my life, but I’m the first to apologize. Oh, I didn’t see that. I didn’t anticipate that. I’m sorry that happened. Oh, I see where you’re coming from. Okay, got it, understood. And just like that repair, maybe it’s because I’m a people pleaser. I want everyone to feel good after an argument, like right away. I’m not a stewer. I can’t remember anything negative that happened last week. Maybe it was the blessing of rattling brains too many times. My memory sucks. But I just don’t care to hold anything above anybody.

2. Don’t Hold Grudges

It’s like, okay. It happened. And my thought is always, we didn’t want that. We didn’t want that. Because it’s about the relationship, right? We didn’t want that fight. We didn’t want it. They didn’t want it to go that bad. No one wanted to get in a screaming match. And we always say, “oh no, you don’t understand my spouse. They want to scream. They want the argument.” Actually, they don’t. They just lack the education and the perspective of how to do it differently. No one wants to be in anger, and wants to be in vitriol, and wants to argue, and wants to be belittling and condescending and awful. They literally have never been trained in a better way. They’re literally unaware or ignorant of another way. And it doesn’t mean they’re a bad person, or they’re stupid. It means they haven’t had that training. It’s a real struggle I know for many of you in personal development land, right? How many of us can’t believe that people don’t understand basic personal development stuff, right? And we get frustrated with them.

You got to understand, 98% of this world has never had any training on mindfulness, wellbeing or relationship improvement. Zero training. ‘Cause in school, all we taught them was to memorize a bunch of stuff from a bunch of old dead dudes, right? It’s like, we are not teaching people how to do peopling. So you can’t get mad that a 30 year old person doesn’t know how to resolve a conflict. They never had any conflict management training. It’s unbelievable. Think about it. We don’t teach conflict management training in elementary school, or middle school, or high school in North America in any meaningful way. What we say is, “Be nice,” or “That wasn’t nice.” We don’t teach conflict resolution. And when you know that, it’s like, “Oh, no wonder we suck at repair.”

3. Keep an Eye on Your Ego

Here’s how you know when someone is really trapped in life: Their ego won’t let them repair. Their ego has to hold onto the bitterness and the anger. Their ego has to make the other person evil and wrong and terrible. The ego makes the others always to blame, always the awful, always just the stuff. The ego traps. And so now, the issue is you’re trapped in your ego, but the ego wants to condemn everybody.

Again, cancel culture or vilification culture, where there’s just this terrible person. They said the wrong thing. They made a mistake. It’s okay, by the way, that you get upset about it. I’m not here to say we should all be Pollyannaish. I get upset about tons of things. It’s the question of, can you repair it when you get upset? When you get too upset? When the argument goes sideways, when your energy together sucks, can you repair it? Can you say, “You know what? I know our energy sucked together. We didn’t want that. I’m sorry for my part. I love you very much.” And the other person goes, “I accept that. I didn’t want that either. I love you very much. Let’s go get pina colada.”

I’m just saying there’s ways to repair. Pina coladas are always good in our department. I’m just saying there’s ways to move beyond things, and I hope that makes it a little light. Because, listen, I know this is a serious topic, but I love this stuff. I want you to have deep, meaningful, loving relationships, but you can’t ever, if you don’t repair this stuff as you go. Not repair every five years, every 10 years.

4. Repair Within 48 Hours

If you need to repair it, you’re going to tell the people, I go, you got 48 hours tops to repair. Which I believe is super generous. I used to teach, you get four hours to repair. And I was very well-educated by some marital therapists being like, “Well, that’s not everyone’s style. Some people want to go sit away.” But if you sit on it for more than 48 hours, you have to understand, their memory and your memory has now coalesced against something being true.

And the longer you wait to repair, the more what you believe to be true is solidified and calcified. And it’s harder to change a perspective or to let go of that, right?

It’s calcified. It’s hard now. It’s hard. It’s more fluid in real time and in the moments and hours afterwards to being defined and released. The longer you hold on, ’cause some of you notice, some people are holding onto stuff that happened to them 20 years ago. I remember going back to a high school reunion. I was talking to a friend, and I think it was our 25th, 20th, I was talking about something that happened in high school. And the way they were talking, I could not believe they were still so upset about it. Now, I, in my mind, thank God, I thought, “Okay, well, that was traumatic for this person.” I have to understand that. But if there’s still bitterness, hatred, anger, but also, most importantly, judgment against others, now we’re trapped in the ego and we need some help. Because that’s the difference maker.

We can have something traumatic happen, but if it’s still in that place where there’s vitriol and judgment against others, that becomes very toxic in our own mindset and we’ve got to deal with that stuff.

Again, sometimes that takes therapy to learn to repair those things. But in motion with your relationships, I’d love to set that 48-hour rule for you. I personally am a believer, I came up in a different culture. I came up with the “never go to bed angry thing.”

Repair, resolve, coordinate, love, let it go, and go to bed. I know that’s not true for everybody. So maybe you got to eke it out the next day. But I would say, if by 48 hours you haven’t brought up that you’re upset, that is a weakness in your communication style, not something to continue holding against them.

5. Practice Explicit Communication

We must be more explicit when we’re upset with people and let them know.

I would say nine out of 10 things that I do to upset Denise, I have no clue and I don’t think it is a big deal at all. But the one out of 10, she tells me, I’m like, “I’m an idiot. I’m sorry.”

Explicit communication is the most important thing in all of repair. All of it. You must say it. You must not hint at it. You must not be passive aggressive. You must use the words to describe exactly how you felt and what your request is for next time.

Describe how you felt, not describe what they did, describe how you felt and then make the repair request for next time. Next time that happens, can we do this? Next time that happens, can you consider that? Next time, what could we do? And I think that’s really important. Really important.