Couples Avoiding Fights While “Sheltering in Place”

Interview: Carol Barkes


Carol Barkes is a conflict resolution expert, mediator, national speaker, educator and bestselling author who uniquely applies neuroscience to the fields of conflict resolution and negotiations. Her expert perspective is always fresh and relevant.

Some Talking Points from Carol Barkes
on How Couples Can Avoid Fights During the Quarantine

Here are some talking points for an interview on how can communicate their feelings better when trying to overcome conflict:

1.  The first thing is to consider reframing the word “fight” to have more constructive conversations.  But if we want to use the word “fight,” then we want to figuratively put the issue on one side of the table and you, as a couple, on the other. You must remain partners in the pursuit of improving your relationship and resolving issues.

2. In reference to point 1, you can voice complaints, but avoid criticism. Criticism about the person and/or their behaviors and is rarely positively received. Construction criticism is a myth. Instead, express a complaint about an issue and focus on how to resolve the issue.

3. Our brains hard wire what we focus on, so do not dwell on problems, instead, dwell on solutions. Rehashing the intricate details of a conflict keep us in the past and we cannot change that. Instead, focus on how to move forward. Set up specific, measurable steps and timelines, just as you would any business project. If one person gets stuck going back to the past, the other person should gently remind them to be solution-focused.

4. Avoid defensiveness. Instead, be like a detective and ask questions to better understand the other person’s perspective. Magic can come from better understanding. For instance, if one partner wants more quality time with the other, instead of saying, “We spend great time together all the time,”  ask, “Can you give me some examples of what would meet this need for you?” The better off you understand where the other person is coming from, the more likely you will be able to resolve a matter that is causing you both discomfort.

5. Speak from your perspective and ask for modifications kindly. I have a different pace at which I manage my to-do list than my husband does. He is willing and able to let projects drag on for months and it makes me crazy. Instead of attacking his approach, I have explained to him how never-ending projects cause me stress, and stress causes me to present to him in a less than desirable manner (and affects my libido). Consequently, I add that it would help my stress level and my ability to show up for him more fully, if he would shorten project timelines. Once I explained this to him and he saw the benefits to our relationship, projects get done much faster.

6. Do not talk down to the other person. Also known as contempt, this is when you approach the other person from a place of superiority. Relationship expert, John Gottman, discovered through great research that the presence of this type of communication in a relationship indicates relationship failure with more than 90% accuracy.

Available for Interviews:Carol Barkes

Carol Barkes, CPM, is a trend-setting mediator, business executive and educator specializing in the use of neuroscience to improve business performance, interpersonal communications, negotiation and conflict resolution processes for optimally successful results. She is also a speaker, educator, and author of the bestselling book: Success Breakthroughs: Leading Entrepreneurs and Professionals Reveal Their Secrets for Breaking Through to Success.

Jo Allison
PR Managing Editor
Success In Media, Inc.

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