Home is where the heart is: how emotional intelligence reduces conflict



Last week during one of my group sessions the question came up about why it seems easier to experience conflict at home than at work. It didn’t take long to highlight three unique aspects of living with others vs. working with others.

image credit: Christopher Harris

image credit:
Christopher Harris

  1. People we live with know how to push our buttons
  2. Above all things home is supposed to be a safe place
  3. It is harder to overlook an offense when there is deep rooted history

Gaining control of conflict in our life is reliant, in part, on our ability to develop a healthy level of Emotional Intelligence. When we are aware of our emotions as well as other’s emotions our ability to think and react with our rational mind rises and in turn lowers how often we react irrationally.  Responding irrationally, usually comes from the lower part of our brain and is strongly influenced by emotions.

My intent with this post is to bring awareness to why living with people can create more conflict than working with others. As our awareness grows, our ability to master the emotions that arise in situations grows resulting in rational conversation instead of conflict.

People we live with know how to push our buttons:

With just a look, we can send someone we love to the moon! In the beginning of marriage, life with kids, or being a daughter, we are completely free to be ourselves, to love and be loved. Before too long, little things start to annoy us and the build up of that annoyance begins to bubble out. At this point we can’t hold back from commenting (and perhaps exploding) about how we’ve picked up socks in the living room everyday for a year and you feel like an under-appreciated maid at best.

From that moment on, a new narrative takes root and we begin to interpret the actions of family members through the lens of being unappreciated. Allowing yourself to see family relationship through this new lens will cause our skin to thin making it easier to get offended and hurt.

Above all things home is supposed to be a safe place

Have you had this thought? After a long day working, interacting with people who know nothing about you, all you want is to go home to be with someone who gets you. Home is where we should be able to let our hair down and be our self.

Unfortunately this isn’t always our experience. When we share about our day, our struggles, our dreams we get judged, criticized, or rejected. It is truly painful and can cause us to begin to keep thoughts to our self as a measure of protection. Over time we favor protecting our fragile emotions over building strong relationships with our spouse, children, parents, and siblings.

It is harder to overlook an offense when there is deep rooted history:

Relationships don’t breakdown over night. We can go 10 years without being aware that there is a recurring problem. Yet, we are still able to remember all the little and big offenses against us using them as daggers during the heat of conflict.

When we are unable to overlook an offense or address conflicts fully as they arise, our tendency is to keep a historical log. We think that we have good intentions, with the ability to let little pains go, but when we don’t fully address little things, the big things will look even bigger. One conflict is never just about let’s say, NOT taking out the trash. It is rooted something else. One mentor of mine describes a conflict with his wife. As they were talking about a minor incident at home, she blurts out, “well you kissed my sister before we started dating.”

This example, illustrates that history does make difference when we do not fully deal with it.

Now that we uncovered some reasons for more conflict at home than at work, our awareness has grown. Please check back next week, to find out what to do after gaining awareness. Until then please consider the following questions to help you bring awareness to your specific circumstance.

To discuss your answers in a safe environment, follow this link to a private FaceBook page.   You can request to be added and then begin to interact.

  1. At home, what do people do that can really set you off?
  2. What offenses tend to arise over and over?
  3. What have you shared with your spouse, children, parents, or siblings that they criticized?
  4. Are you open to sharing the deepest parts of yourself with your spouse, children, parents, or siblings? Why or why not?

Again I would love to connect with you on the Private FaceBook page, where only women are invited to explore and grow as peacemakers.

“If You Want To Go Fast, Go Alone. If You Want To Go Far, Go Together.” I would love to be introduced to your friends so we can go far and deep in all of what life brings.  Please share this blog post on your FB wall, or email it to your friends. 

Leave a Reply