How do I Reduce the Probability of Dysfunctional Conflict?

Written by j. johnson
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How do I Reduce the Probability of Dysfunctional Conflict?
Dysfunctional conflict can come between partners. (couple arguing image by Luisafer from

Conflict is often inevitable in many different types of relationship, including family, friends, spouses and co-workers. However, there is a difference between healthy conflict and unhealthy conflict. Unhealthy conflict is also known as dysfunctional conflict and it can lead to many negative emotions and problems, such as resentment, anger, distrust and destructive behaviours. Healthy conflict can lead to closeness, respect, forgiveness and productive behaviours. There are ways that you can help reduce the probability of dysfunctional conflict in your relationships (see Reference 2).

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Talk it out. One way to promote dysfunctional conflict is by ignoring the other person. Ignoring the conflict won't make it go away. Instead, encourage the other person to talk through the issue with you (see Reference 1).

  2. 2

    Let your feelings out in a healthy way. It's OK to feel distraught, hurt, angry, guilty or embarrassed. But keeping these feelings to yourself can cause dysfunctional conflict. Talk through your feelings so they don't come out in unhealthy ways (see Reference 1).

  3. 3

    Try to compromise. Sometimes a conflict cannot be resolved with both people getting exactly what they want. You need to recognise this or the conflict could become dysfunctional. Talk through all available options and try to come up with a solution that at least satisfied part of what each person wants (see Reference 2).

  4. 4

    Avoid yelling, name-calling and generally lashing out at the other person. These are all part of dysfunctional conflict. Stay calm and try not to make the conflict personal. This will help you reach a satisfactory solution sooner (see Reference 2).

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