When you get into a conflict with somebody, whether it be a romantic partner, a family member, or a friend, what is your ultimate goal in the conversation? Is it to solve the problem? Is it to make the smartest points possible? Is it to get your voice heard? Or is it to listen? Many individuals would probably like to say that they’re looking for a solution and that they’re listening. But if they were honest with themselves and reflected on past conflicts, they’d realize they’d really just talked the most and the loudest and didn’t do a whole lot of listening.
Most people have a lot more pride than they’d like to admit, and compromise a lot less than they’d care to say. It can be hard to really wrap our heads around the fact that compromise means giving something up, and that hearing someone out means letting go of some of our preconceived notions – those are pretty difficult to release. But, when we do begin to hear people out, life can really feel like it opens up. Conflicts that felt impossible to solve and caused a lot of stress can finally dissolve or at least become smaller. Maybe we don’t get to be “right” or to “win,” but we do get to be happier. We spoke with licensed therapist and best-selling author Latasha Matthews about why we struggle to hear others out, and how life changes when we do.
What major issues do we get “stuck” in?
“There are a variety of conflicts that impact family dynamics,” Matthews explains. “Families often struggle with conflicts surrounding money, childrearing, in-law related conflict, and divorcee family conflict over child-rearing concerns, just to name a few. As for romantic relationships, she says, “Finances, sex, and child-rearing are common conflicts that worsen when the couple does not hear each other out.”