It might start out as a simple topic of conversation then – wham. Out it comes. The fight begins. Before you know it, what started out as something really simple ended up being really complicated. You may think to yourself:
‘’all I wanted was a simple answer to a question’’
‘’I was only making a comment – you know, small talk’’
‘’geez, what did I say to have that response?’’
Then you go around, and around and around. It’s exhausting and frustrating. You’re hurt and don’t know what just happened. Neither one of you has ‘won’, what’s even worse is now you’re in a foul mood.
Do you want to be right? Or do you want to understand?
Many conflicts come from either of two places. Fear or the need to be right.
Fear is what we experience when we think we’re going to be hurt by a loss. It may be fear of losing face, time, a resource that is valuable or our ideals, beliefs or values are threatened.
We all like to think we are right and the other person is just plain wrong. We continue to argue and it can get to the point when you don’t really know what you’re arguing about anymore. All you want to do is win the argument.
While it’s frustrating (because of course you’re right!) we need to remember that people can see things very differently from you. That in of itself can cause a lot of frustration and tension!
This is the point when you need to stop and ask yourself, ‘’do I want to be right, or do I want to understand?’’
What’s wrong with you!?
Sometimes, it can be easier to blame someone else before we make ourselves accountable for our own behaviour. I know I’ve been guilty of that for sure.
It can be helpful to go through a bit of a check list and ask yourself some questions about your partner. Such as:
- Did the way they speak to you seem out of character?
- Is something significant going on in their life?
- Is there a health issue they’re dealing with?
- Did you catch them in the middle of a task?
- Was it bad timing?
What did I do?
Adding to that list, ask yourself:
- How was my tone voice?
- What was my body language?
- What did I actually say?
- What am I really upset about?
- How was I feeling when it happened?
- What was I thinking about?
Cool down – wait for the steam to evaporate – then act
After you’ve gone through your check list, think about what you want to do next. Think about:
- Before you had the argument, what did you want from your partner?
- What happened during the argument that you want address?
- What outcome do you want from a future argument?
- What will you have achieved?
Choose your arguments strategically and wisely. Timing is everything. Make sure when you have that conservation about what happened be sure the timing is suitable for both of you. Then, if you decide to go ahead, here are 3 ways to deal effectively with it.
Here’s the plan
- When you have an argument, it can be tempting to go through the archives. Well last September you did this, and then Sunday two weeks ago you did that. This tactic confuses the issue and puts the other person on defense. Choose one issue to address at a time, and one issue only.
- You said this, you looked at me like that, you, you, you. When you make everything about the other person, you lose your bargaining power. Focus on what you want to achieve. Use ‘’I’’ statements that describe your experience and what you want. A helpful starting template can be ‘’I’d like to…….so that……’’ For example ‘’I’d like not to be yelled at when asking you a question so that I can focus on what you’re saying. When I am yelled at I feel frightened, I shut down and I don’t know how to approach you. I don’t want to be frightened within our relationship.’’
- Our emotions can get in the way of what we want to achieve. Being aware of what you’re feeling, plus having a saying or a mantra, can keep you on track and focused on what you want. Something like ‘’Even though I’m fearful I’m going to have this difficult conversation because it’s important to me’’ can have a grounding affect.
I can’t do that!!
If the thought of having a difficult discussion or argument with your partner brings up a whole lot of concern, even anxiety for you, talking about it with a professional can be a valuable investment. With support and understanding, implementing this kind of strategy into your life while enhance not only your relationship with your partner, but with others too.