How best to deal with family conflicts according to a relationship expert - and #2 is vital (even if it’s easier said than done)

As the new royal tell-all biography Endgame, is set to ruin all chances of reconciliation between Prince Harry, Meghan, and the Royal Family, we look at how to deal with family fallouts

Prince Harry and Prince William stood with their backs to each other at Princess Diana memorial statue unveiling
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As the Royal Family prepares for another showdown following the release of tell-all biography Endgame, a relationship expert has shared her top tips for how best to deal with family conflicts.

Just when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle appeared to be making some progress in their relationship with King Charles after Prince Archie and Lilibet recorded a sweet video tribute for his Majesty's 75th birthday, the release of another tell-all book is reportedly set to ruin all chances of reconciliation for the royals.

The relationship between the Sussexes and the royals - particularly King Charles, Queen Camilla, Prince William and Kate Middleton - has been strained ever since Harry and Meghan stepped back as working members of the royal family. Their tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey sparked revelations among the royals and Prince Harry's memoir Spare was a bombshell.

Omid Scobie, co-author of Finding Freedom: Harry and Meghan and the Making of A Modern Royal Family has released a second book, called Endgame and it's a deeper investigation into the current state of the British monarchy.

Louella Alderson, online bingo site Heart Bingo’s relationship expert and co-founder of dating app So Syncd, shares her tips for avoiding past conflicts and how families can best navigate arguments, in light of the latest Royal Family tell-all book. Her expertise will help you to get your point across without causing further damage.

Louella Alderson
Louella Alderson

Louella is online bingo site Heart bingo's relationship expert and is the co-founder and CMO of So Syncd dating app. Swiping right on the basis of a couple of photos is not the way to finding an exciting, fulfilling, and long-lasting relationship. Looks are not enough when it comes to meaningful matches, so my sister (Jessica) and I created So Syncd, the dating app that matches compatible personality types.

Tips for avoiding past conflicts

Speaking to Goodto, Louella says, "Families often face challenges when trying to move forward from past conflicts or issues. These can be brought up in arguments and cause further damage, hindering the process of healing and moving on. It's important for families to find ways to communicate effectively and navigate disagreements without bringing up the past. If the relevant people have apologised and the issue has been resolved, it's important to let go of past grudges and not use them as ammunition in arguments.”

1. Focus on the present issue

“One tip for avoiding bringing up the past in arguments is to focus on the present issue at hand. It's easy to bring up unrelated past incidents, but this can be counterproductive and derail the current argument. Instead, try to stick to discussing the current problem and finding solutions. Bringing up the past can also make the other person feel attacked and defensive, leading to a further breakdown in communication.”

2. Choose your words carefully

“Another helpful tip is to choose your words carefully and avoid using accusatory or inflammatory language. When emotions run high, saying hurtful things and bringing up the past is easy. It's important to try to communicate calmly and thoughtfully. Instead of saying "you always..." or "you never...", try using "I feel..." statements to express your thoughts and emotions without placing blame on the other person. This can help to create a more productive and respectful conversation.”

Woman consoling crying woman

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3. Actively listen

“It's also important to actively listen to each other and try to understand the other person's perspective. This can help to diffuse potential conflicts and find common ground for resolution. Don't keep talking over each other or interrupting, as this can escalate the argument and prevent effective communication. If things get heated, stop to let each other cool down before continuing the discussion. Empathising and listening to each other can go a long way in resolving past issues and preventing them from resurfacing in arguments.”

two men talking to each other and listening

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4. Remember you are on the same team

“During a family argument, it's important to remember that you are on the same team and want what's best for the family. Try to find common ground and work towards a resolution together. And most importantly, remember to forgive and let go of past grievances. Holding onto grudges will only hinder your healing progress and prevent the family from moving forward. 

By actively working on communication and finding ways to move forward together, families can avoid bringing up the past during arguments and create a healthier, stronger bond. So, it is essential to actively work on communication skills and forgiveness to foster a healthy and strong family dynamic.”

family tug of war on a beach

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If you're at the stage where you need to raise an issue with a member of your family, Louella has given her expert analysis on the best way to bring the problem up - whether it be face-to-face, over the phone, in a handwritten letter or over email or via text. Here are her pros and cons associated with each method...

How best to raise a grievance with a family member

Louella acknowledges that raising issues with family members can be a delicate and sensitive matter. She believes it's important to consider the most effective way to address the issue while also being mindful of how it may impact the relationship and future interactions. 

However, the best way to address an issue varies depending on the specific situation and the individuals involved and she has unpicked each method to help you decide what's right for you and your family...

1. Face-to-face

“One option is to have a face-to-face conversation with the family member. This allows for direct communication and can help to avoid misinterpretation or misunderstandings, which can be a common issue for written communication. It also allows for body language and tone to be considered, which can help convey emotions and intentions. Resolving arguments in person can be a quicker way to reach a resolution and restore the relationship. 

However, having a face-to-face conversation may not always be possible or appropriate, especially if the issue is sensitive or if distance is a factor. It can also be a more emotionally charged situation and can escalate into a larger issue if the matter is not approached carefully. People can say things in the heat of the moment that they may regret later on.”

Mature parent looking at sad son sitting on sofa at home - stock photo

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2. Over the phone

“Calling a family member can be a quick and convenient way to address an issue, especially if they aren’t physically present. It can also allow for direct communication, like a face-to-face conversation, without the added pressure of being in the same room. However, it may not always be as effective as a face-to-face conversation or may not convey emotions and intentions clearly. Plus, the option to hang up can always create an abrupt, unresolved end to the conversation.”

woman laid down arguing on the phone

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3. Handwritten letter

“Another option is to address the issue through a handwritten letter. This can be a good option if the issue is complex and requires careful thought and consideration. Some people struggle to find the right words to say what they mean at the moment, so letters can be particularly beneficial for them. They can help them get their point across fully and clearly. It could also act as a therapeutic outlet for the person writing the letter. 

Additionally, keeping a record of what was said can be beneficial for future reference or if the issue needs to be addressed again. However, letters may not always convey emotions effectively and can come across as cold or distant. They may also not be received or read in a timely manner, which could delay the resolution of the issue.”

Person writing letters with black pen and white paper.

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4. Over email or text

“Email or text are also options for addressing issues with family members. They offer the convenience of immediate communication and can be a less confrontational approach than face-to-face. However, it's important to consider the tone and language used in written communication as it may come across differently than intended. Misinterpretations can easily escalate into misunderstandings and further conflicts. Texts and emails can also be sent in hastiness and may not allow for careful thought and consideration before hitting "send". 

It's sometimes helpful to sleep on the issue and revisit it with a calmer mindset before replying or sending a message in anger. If using written communication, it can be helpful to follow up with a face-to-face conversation or phone call to discuss the issue further and ensure that emotions and intentions are properly understood.”

Silhouette of couple fighting on smart phone screens - stock illustration

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Having armed you with the tools you need to navigate your family disagreements better, Louella warned that it is "important to keep in mind the individual preferences and communication styles of the family member being addressed. 

She explained, "Some may prefer face-to-face conversations, while others may appreciate written communication. Ultimately, the most effective approach depends on the situation and the individuals involved. Whichever method is chosen, it's important to communicate with respect, empathy, and a desire for resolution in order to maintain a healthy and strong family dynamic.”

And that's not all, she urges people in the situation to consider which method works best for them. She added, "Ask yourself: How do I best express myself? Will I feel so angry I can't get my point across clearly in person? Would I prefer to be able to choose my words carefully in a letter? Do I want to resolve this quickly and move on? Which communication style does my family prefer? By considering these factors, you can choose the best method to raise the issue and work towards a resolution in a way that feels comfortable and effective for all parties involved.”

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Selina Maycock
Senior Family Writer