Talk, but without anger
- Silence can be the killer of a relationship. If you have a disagreement, you need to talk it out. The only time you need to delay the discussion is when one of the participants is too angry to think straight or talk logically. When anger is too strong in a discussion, no one is listening and nothing gets solved. Take a break, calm down and then talk it through.
- Don’t try to “win” at all costs. When one participant wins at all costs, no one really wins the argument. Both sides hold onto their grudges, and the relationship suffers.
- Eliminate name calling. When blaming and name calling start, the walls go up and communication goes out the window. Watch your tone because even affectionate names such as “dear” said in the wrong tone can be emotional bombs.
- Keep other people out of it. The argument is among the people involved. When others and what they said or believe are involved, damage can be done to those relationships. Other’s opinions rarely change combatants’ beliefs or opinions.
- Don’t rehash past wrongs or arguments. Don’t keep a list of wrongs from the past as weapons for the present conflict. They usually don’t matter in the discussion and serve as a way to smear the person you are fighting with. It is okay to learn from the past, but not okay to bring it up over and over again.
- Stick to the subject. Stay focused on one topic. Find the issue you want to resolve and stay with that. Don’t bring up other issues and conflicts to prove your point or catch others off-guard.
- Don’t review each other’s weaknesses. Don’t throw other’s weak points in their face. You may win the argument, but you lose more than you gain. Try to fight fairly and don’t be overly sensitive about what the other person says or how they say it.
- Don’t go to bed angry. Finish the fight. Dragging out a fight can be as energy-draining as avoiding a fight.
- Maintain your sense of humor. Many times…especially when we are fighting…we take ourselves and our lives way too seriously.
- Focus on the person and really listen. People want to be heard. Make sure you give them a chance to speak and be heard before you make your case. Don’t interrupt or shout them down.
- Avoid “you” statements. Stay away from accusatory statements such as “You always….” or “You never…” They immediately put the other person on the defensive and put up walls to communication. Always and never statements are exaggerations and can always be disputed by the other. Make “I” statements instead such as “I feel _____________________ when you ____________________.”
At CounselingWorks, we know that fair fighting is a key skill for a successful relationship. Our licensed contract counselors can help you develop this and other techniques that you can use to build a healthy and happy relationship.