Bonnie Support Services

Bonnie Support Services

Managing conflict

Conflict is a normal part of life.

Issues with communication and misunderstandings are often a source of conflict, as are differences in expectations, opinions, beliefs and values. However conflict is very different to domestic violence, in which there is a deliberate abuse of power and control over another person.

An example of everyday conflict might be this: if I strongly value timeliness and my friend is constantly turning up late when we have plans together, I’m going to start feeling resentful. I might even question whether my friend values our relationship. She probably has no idea of the effect her lateness is having on me because she doesn’t place the same value on being on time. In fact, she doesn’t care at all if someone rocks up half an hour late for coffee!

Most conflicts can be overcome through clear negotiation and communication. But this can be challenging when strong emotions are involved. When conflicts are simple they can be resolved one-on-one, but sometimes outside support might be needed, such as an impartial mediator – another person who can listen to both sides of the story and help find a solution that everyone can live with.

There are three main things to keep in mind when you encounter conflict:

  1. Remain respectful;
  2. Listen to the other person;
  3. Separate the person from the problem.

When women are living together in a refuge, where they are sharing the space, conflict can arise from differences in routines, parenting styles and levels of cleanliness. Many women have experienced trauma and can be processing a lot of difficult emotions, which can trigger conflict, too.

The key to keeping life harmonious is resolving conflicts as they arise. We all know how toxic an unresolved conflict can become if left to simmer beneath the surface! While minor issues can often be dealt with one-on-one, sometimes extra support is helpful. At Bonnie’s, we hold house meetings every Monday night at our refuges, as a way of discussing any issues that are impacting on the women and families who are living there.

The meetings are coordinated by one of our Family Workers and everyone has a chance to speak and be listened to.

All of the women who use our service have access to a Family Worker, who can also support them with resolving the conflicts in their lives.

Conflict is just part of being human. It happens to everyone. But learning to manage conflict is a big step towards health, happiness and a more peaceful world!

Written by Alison M

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