Hints for resolving conflict

When dealing with a serious illness, people are often worried and nervous, and conflict is common. You may find yourself in conflict with your friends or family or with a member of your healthcare team. Of course, some of your complaints about your treatment or care may turn out to be justified, and many can be resolved with time.

However, many people find themselves getting almost uncontrollably angry with friends or the healthcare team. Some of this feeling is caused by the basic human reaction of anger at having a serious illness. It can be difficult to control the anger and so it may be focused on the people close to you, or the people who are dealing with your treatment.

Sometimes, there is also a feeling of resentment that you are seriously ill and the other person is healthy. You may also feel very out of control and vulnerable and this can make you feel very angry.

For the above reasons, it is possible that you will disagree with some people at some stage. Here are some guidelines to help you to resolve some of the areas of conflict:

  • Whenever possible, try to describe your feelings rather than just acting on them.
  • Try to acknowledge all emotions – whether they are yours or the other person’s.
  • If you can’t agree on a particular issue, you can ‘agree to disagree’.
  • Talk the dispute over with someone else. You may see a way out of the argument by seeing it from a different point of view.
  • Try to see the other person’s side of the argument. They may be feeling very bad about the conflict. Seeing their difficulty may help you feel less angry.
  • Write down some of your feelings. This can help to put things in perspective.
  • Contact your health board. If your conflict is about your health care you can contact your local health board, who can help you to resolve any problems. Details of how to find contact details for your local health board are available in our NHS in your area section.
  • Contact a counselling service. If your conflict is about personal issues or home life, you may find it helpful to arrange some counselling sessions.

Condition-specific information

Further information on conditions that may be affecting you or those around you:

Support Groups

Visit the NHS inform Support Services Directory to search for local organisations that may help with the issues you are facing:

Last updated: 19 February 2015

This content was supplied by Macmillan Cancer Support.