By John Wilder

Many people dread the holidays because of conflicts with family members.  There is hope if you follow these guidelines.

Fighting comes naturally, peacefully resolving conflict does not.  The problem with fighting is that no one wants to “lose” the fight so we lock into combat that almost always escalates into dysfunction.  That dysfunction can be screaming, throwing things, cursing and/or  even hitting a family member.

To avoid those problems and dysfunction, I have listed some techniques that are guaranteed to work if you will use them.    A great idea is to adopt the physicians vow about dealing with your conflicts;  “ First, do no harm.”

When a family member is angry with you, the first rule is to SHUT UP AND LISTEN.  I know that it is hard to do.  You need to let them get out everything that bothers them before you counter their arguments.  Once they are done, ask to repeat back what they said so that you and the family member are sure that you understand the problem.  Then ask:  “In what way can we resolve this problem”?  This goes a long way to resolving the problem.  Calmly discuss solutions.  “A soft answer turns away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger.” Proverbs 15:1


Too many times people are locked into winning.   The problem with winning is that there is also a loser who will feel humiliated.

Better to “agree to disagree”.  In this way, neither party feels like they have “lost” the argument.


If negotiating has not worked and the person is still adamant that they want a solution the Bible has a solution:  “The lot causes contentions to cease and parts the mighty.”  Proverbs

Casting lots was a dice game, but a modern day corollary would be a flip of the coin to settle the issue.


When you are in a discussion where you both have a point of view that you feel strongly about, there is another alternative.  You can agree to negotiate the argument for a peaceful settlement.  You can do this by adopting a 10 scale.  You each assign a numerical value form 1-10 depending on how firmly you believe your side is worth.  You have to give an honest evaluation.  Using a 10 where there is absolutely no room for negotiation, to a 1 scale where you could go either way. Come up with a legitimate number to assess your position.  Suppose your
spouse is at a 7 and you are at a 4 then you agree to give in to the spouse’s 7 to make for a peaceful resolution.


Another good way to resolve the argument is to simply compromise half way between the two points of view.  Both parties feel like they got something and don’t feel humiliated.

John Wilder has appeared as the guest expert on numerous radio and television shows on family, relationships and marriage issues. He has written for Journal of Light Construction, Canadian Contractor Magazine, Remodeling Magazine, Professional Painter Magazine, Handy Magazine, Redbook Magazine,  Do! Magazine, among several other publications.  John just completed his new book: YOU CAN ACHIEVE HAPPILY EVER AFTER AND IMPROVE YOUR LOVE LIFE TOO. You can reach John via email at where he is offering a half-hour complimentary consultation to all new clients.