Conflict Resolution

When two men have a disagreement, they move on to another topic and go get a beer together.

When women have a disagreement, it impacts every fiber of their being and they don’t easily forget.

The Man

From the time they are young, men (or boys) forgive and forget. A group of boys plays football during school recess but one keeps changing the rules so his team can win. The group will get mad at him – for that recess. The next day, this same group of boys will be playing together as if nothing ever happened. This is how men handle conflict. Forgive and forget. It’s done. It’s over. Moving on.

The Woman

A group of girls are at a Girl Scout meeting. One makes the mistake of insulting another – she is immediately an outcast from the group. The group has rallied around the insulted girl. Everybody goes home and returns to school the next day – and the next for two weeks. The outcast girl remains outcast. If she’s lucky, the girls will eventually let her back in, but she won’t have to slip too far to fall from grace again.

The Bridge

Generally speaking, women feel more vulnerable during a conflict. When dealing with a conflict, women tend to focus more on the relationship and the impact of the conflict on the relationship, where men tend to focus more on a logical, linear solution and don’t often seek input from outsiders. Women will discuss conflict, partly in an attempt to continue building a relationship.

In order to bridge the gap, it is important to understand where your man is coming from. His lack of desire not to talk about the conflict doesn’t mean he isn’t interested in resolving it, he will just do it differently. For him, once the primary confrontation is over, so is the conflict. Men don’t see resolving conflict as an opportunity to build the relationship further. They also consider the conflict to be over without further discussion.

You have a need to try to build the relationship as part of resolving the conflict. In order to build the relationship, however, you’re going to have to let the conflict go and do the building as a separate activity. If you try to talk to your man in the middle of conflict, you will probably be emotional, and this will send him running.

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