FAMILY TENSIONS AND HOW TO DEFUSE THEM

In my previous blogs about surviving the Christmas period I have discussed the signs of rising tension, how they start and ways to avoid them. Sometimes though, avoidance is not an option and it is important to recognise that there are ways to defuse tensions. 

  1. Acknowledge feelings. Helping someone feel heard and being able to address the issue in a kind and open way can help to reduce tension and validate a person. Keep your body language open, non-verbal cues are important, and be ready to listen without defensiveness. If you become defensive the situation could escalate. Stay grounded and really listen rather than just listening in order to formulate a response. Repeating back what you have heard with “so what I am hearing you say is…” will clarify exactly what the other person is expressing and show your understanding. This practice will show the other person that you have truly heard them and you are doing your best to understand. 
  1. Approach without confrontation. If you feel it is necessary to have a conversation about an issue that has arisen the way you approach the conversation will set the tone for how it will go. During the conversation use ‘I’ statements; “I feel like I am not listened to”, or “I would like to understand what it is you are feeling, could you explain it to me?”,  rather than saying “you make me feel”. This way you are taking ownership of your feelings and not blaming the other person. If the other person tells you that you make them feel a particular way, understand that it is their perspective and take the opportunity to clarify that this wasn’t your intention but you understand. Understanding and compassion, rather than defensiveness and aggression, are the key to keeping a conversation from escalating into an argument. 
  1. There are two sides.  Remember that the other person’s perspective is as valid as yours. You are both looking at the same situation from different points of view, completely different angles and with the filter of your own judgements and bias. Of course, you don’t have to get to a point where you change your point of view, and neither does the other person, in fact sometimes all we can do is have understanding and agree to disagree. Sometimes there is no right or wrong, there is just a different way of seeing or doing things. 
  1. There is growth in conflict. Sometimes we get things wrong. Owning up to our mistakes and making a sincere apology can help to resolve tensions and strengthen relationships. There are so many cases in which important relationships have been lost over something reasonably trivial, purely because someone was too stubborn or proud to apologise. If you have made a mistake, learn and grow from the experience. 
  1. Bring your sense of humour. Humour can help to defuse tension but be careful! Make sure you read the room as humour injected into a serious conflict may make things worse rather than better. If you get it right though, introducing humour into a tense situation can have great effect, leaving everyone laughing and consequently forgetting what they were angry about in the first place.

Next time I will talk about Christmas on your own terms!

Remember that here I am discussing general tensions, raised frustrations and anger at a low level. If you are experiencing any kind of physical, mental, sexual, financial or other type of abuse, I have included contact numbers below, please reach out for help if it is safe to do so. 

If this has resonated with you and you would like to know more about how I can help you overcome the stresses and learn how to defuse tensions Christmas brings book a free session here

In the meantime keep in touch!

You can do that here:-   

HERE ARE SOME NUMBERS OF CHARITIES THAT CAN HELP IF YOU NEED THEM

Men’s Advice Line: 0808 801 0327 (Mon-Fri 10am-1pm and 2pm to 5pm) 

SAMARITANS: 116 123 (freephone 24 HRS)

Victim Support: 0808 168 9111

National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV): 0800 970 2070 OR Text “NCDV” to 60777 and they’ll call you back

National Domestic Violence helpline: 0808 200 0247 (24hours)

Refuge: 0808 200 0247 (24hours)

Women’s Aid: 0808 200 0247 (24 hours)

National Stalking Helpline: 0808 802 0300 (Mon-Fri 9.30am to 4pm

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