Harvard Mental Health Letter

Dealing with the emotional aspect of conflict

Stimulating positive emotions to resolve disputes and improve relationships.

Few people can get through the day without having to deal with some type of conflict. At home, working parents may debate who is better able to stay home with a sick child. At work, a social worker and a psychologist may disagree about how best to treat a patient.

When it comes to dealing with conflict, many if not most people ignore or suppress emotions. Yet no matter how hard people try to remain unemotional, during a conflict their hearts tend to beat faster, their palms sweat, and their breathing quickens. All of these physical signs attest to underlying emotions that can complicate the discussion.

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