Dealing with Stubborn Family Members: 6 Smart Communication Strategies
The dynamics within a family can be both beautiful and challenging. There may be times when coexisting peacefully seems impossible, and sibling rivalry can escalate to the point of communication breakdown. Ironically, these emotionally-fueled conflicts are often the result of genuine care for one another.
In such situations, a particular family member may always find themselves at the center of conflict, remaining stubborn no matter how hard you try to reason with them. This is when you need to adopt smart communication strategies to avoid getting caught up in arguments and disagreements. Here are six such strategies to help you deal with stubborn family members.
1. Don’t Escalate Situations by Trying to Prove Your Point
Falling into the trap of trying to prove your point against all odds is not effective with stubborn people. They often react on an emotional level rather than logical, which blinds them to reason even if your argument is logical. Instead, focus on soothing their emotions first by burying your ego. Once they feel calm, they will be more receptive, and may even start to see things from your perspective without much persuasion.
2. Find Common Ground to Relieve Rising Tension
Research has shown that our stubbornness is often brought to the surface the more people disagree with us. So, if you feel tension rising, try to find common ground to diffuse the situation. This doesn’t mean you have to give in to their point of view; rather, switch the focus of conversation or activity to something you both appreciate. This can quickly alleviate the tension in the air.
3. Don’t Get Locked Into a Power Struggle
Getting caught up in a power struggle only exacerbates the situation. When dealing with family members, hierarchy and position can add fuel to the fire. Stubborn people are often well-versed in using hierarchy to bolster their side of the argument. Be careful not to fall into the “I’m the parent/oldest, so I’m right” mentality. Instead, aim to diffuse the situation before it reaches that point.
4. Be Completely Honest, Don’t Attack or Blame
When an argument ensues, it’s easy to get caught up in the emotion and use tactics like blame or attacks on character, which only worsen the situation. Instead, express your true feelings honestly (using “I” statements). If, for instance, your brother smokes, calmly explain why you want him to stop and how it makes you feel.
5. Speak, Stop and Listen, Ask Questions
Often easier said than done, this is the best way to deal with stubborn people. Once you honestly state your point of view, listen carefully to theirs, making mental notes of all their points. Showing a willingness to listen and understand may dissolve their stubborn behavior. Carefully address each of their points in a calm, rational manner, and they will be more receptive to hearing your side.
6. If All Else Fails, Let Them Cool Off
If all else fails, sometimes the best thing to do is to give stubborn people time and space to cool off. Harping on will only fall on deaf ears and build more resistance. Giving them space offers an opportunity to reflect and may even prompt an apology for their stubborn behavior. If this is a recurring cycle, you may just have to accept this is who they are.
In conclusion, dealing with stubborn family members is a delicate balancing act. It’s crucial to approach the situation with the right mindset, and these six communication strategies offer an excellent starting point. By remaining calm, honest, rational, and respectful, it’s possible to diffuse even the most intense conflicts and nurture relationships with your loved ones.