In any relationship, each person has a certain set of expectations of the other person, and when those expectations aren’t met, people get upset.
This is the easiest way to break down what conflict means.
When expectations aren’t met and we get upset, we go to the other person and tell them (if we’re good at communicating) what they did wrong. This is great, but let’s take this a step further: let’s start telling people what we would like them to do instead of how they fucked up. Because people aren’t mind readers, and they they will treat you how you ask to be treated.
So for example, when your roommate doesn’t clean…
Complaint: God, you are such a pig.
Request: I want you to wash your own dishes after you use them and not leave clothes around the apartment.
You’ve had a bad day and want some extra attention from your man.
Complaint: God, can’t you tell I’m in a bad mood?
Request: Can you maybe brush my hair and cuddle me for a bit? I’m in a shitty mood.
Your coworker steals your thunder at a meeting.
Complaint: You’re being such a dick!
Request: From now on, when I’m explaining an idea, wait for me to finish explaining it, and then I will ask if you have anything to add.
These are a few generic examples, but this is a simple assignment. All you have to do is stop and think about why you’re upset, think about what the other person would need to do to not upset you, and then request that. The problem with doing this, of course, is that it requires that you have some insight into your own feelings, and feel confident enough in yourself to make yourself vulnerable by requesting something specific from another person.
What it eliminates is the lovely little relationship dance where one person snaps at the other person and then admits later that they’re actually upset about something entirely different. It’s time to stop taking things out on people just because they’re around, and it’s time to start asking for what we want.