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You Hate Each Other… Now What?

By Cultures Of Dignity | April 14, 2020

Photo via Caitlin Ochs/Reuters

Navigating household dynamics during quarantine


We need to keep healthy, safe, and connected to each other. But the everyday moments of living together can be seriously challenging. Even in the best of times, the ability to regulate yourself and have a high level of social and relationship skills have always been the most important skills a person needs to function and thrive. Now, it is critical to you and everyone you’re living with.

Let’s keep in mind:

  • Conflict is inevitable. In this situation, it’s even more likely.

  • Conflicts usually have two aspects: the actual thing people disagree about and how we are talking to each other about the problem.

  • It’s up to us to try our best to be soft on people, hard on ideas.

  • No matter what happens, we still have to interact with each other. We aren’t going anywhere, so it’s in everyone’s best interest to get to a better place. That means really listening; being prepared to be changed by what you hear.  Beware the temptation to wait for someone to stop talking so we can tell them why they’re wrong and we’re right.

  • Everyone is going to have to change at least one thing about what they’re doing to make the problem better and get us closer to where we want to be.

Before talking to the person you’re frustrated with go to a quiet place and write your responses to the following questions:

  1. What are three things you want to accomplish in this meeting?
  2. Are your three goals realistic?
  3. What is one thing you want to hold yourself accountable for during this meeting?

During the conversation, it is important to ask “curious” questions instead of a “why would you ever think X question”. Try using these sentence stems:

Can you tell me more about…

Help me understand why…

What does success look like here?

Maybe it didn’t go perfectly. That’s OK. It’s unrealistic to expect that one meeting will solve the conflict. So have a short check in the next day. And don’t worry, you’ll have more opportunities to practice. Whether you’re cooped up at home or not, you can use this strategy anytime you’re in conflict with other people.

Learning how emotions impact us and our relationships takes some work. Click here to access our Tiny Guides that will coach you through specific skills to help you practice.

This originally appeared in our newsletter Communiquette.

Rosalind Wiseman and our student interns and editors wrote a longer piece for the New York Times on how to manage family dynamics and host a family meeting during quarantine.

New York Times Piece

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You Hate Each Other... Now What?