We all can picture it:
You come home from a long day of work, and instead of relaxing, your partner comes out with criticism. They’re upset because, once again, you forgot to take out the trash. Yea, it’s your fault for forgetting, but why is this yelling necessary?
You sigh a breath of exhaustion and prepare yourself for battle.
Arguments happen; they’re part of any healthy relationship between two people. Whether it’s in your workplace, at home, or with your partner, conflict is inevitable.
But there are a lot of unhealthy habits that people carry when it comes to arguing. They draw out arguments that don’t need to be and very much hurt feelings.
A few habits you should always avoid when in an argument are:
- Trying to Win
- Accusing The Other Person
- Name Calling
If you stay stuck in those tactics, your attempts to resolve the conflict will be futile. Chances are, your message won’t get across before the other person goes on full defense mode.
But, if you avoid those habits, you’re on the right path. And with a bit of intention, you can easily maneuver an argument in a few steps.
Agree together to take a bit of time to calm down. When we’re wrapped up in our emotions in a heightened state, we’re less likely to see things clearly.
Breathe. Those long breaths where you count to ten. Do as many as you need to.
Agree to take several or thirty minutes to get into a calmer state before addressing the issue. This way, you’re both a bit more clear-headed which creates a better environment for resolution.
Allow The Person To Speak
In most arguments, people just want to be heard. They want to get their point across, and being interrupted only makes things worse.
Allow the other person to fully state what they experienced, how they feel, and what it is that’s bothering them. Don’t speak up until the other person is completely done.
You need to keep your cool while this happens; don’t let your emotions burst through while the other person is speaking.
Clarify What They Said
This step is key. Sometimes, we misunderstand what people are saying.
By re-stating what you heard, you’re able to make sure you completely understand them.
“What you’re saying is….”
If the other person thinks you got things wrong, allow them to explain what they meant.
State Your Feelings, In a Non-Accusatory Way
Now it’s your turn (though let me be clear, you don’t always have to go second). State what you experienced, how you’re feeling, and what is bothering you.
Make sure you use healthy communication. Be sure not to:
- Accuse the other person
- State evidence like a detective
- Assume the mind-reader position
- Aim to make them feel bad
An excellent tip for resolving conflicts that I love to use is “I feel” statements.
Instead of saying:
“You’re mean and hurt my feelings.”
“I feel like you were mean to me, and I feel hurt.”
Have The Person Clarify What You Said
This step is similar to the third step. Now it’s time for the other person to clarify what you said.
Again, this isn’t the time to try to solve the argument. This step isn’t for making the other person feel bad.
Clarification is your chance to make sure there is a clear understanding between both of you. Don’t get upset if you need to re-state things a couple of times.
Create A Solution Together
The point of an argument is to come to a solution. It’s not to name-call, make the other person feel bad, or win.
But you’re both unique human beings with differing views of the world and feelings. In a lot of situations, compromise is necessary. Decide together how the issue can be solved and make sure it involves both of you.
And even if all you decide is how to disagree respectfully, then you’ve accomplished plenty.
Remember, feelings are easily hurt in arguments and mistakes carelessly made. If an apology is necessary, make sure to do so from a caring place. And if you were the one wronged, it’s important to do what you need to forgive the other person. Holding a grudge will only hurt yourself in the long-run.
Conflict happens. But they don’t have to be so horrible.
It’s how we handle arguments that determine how much of an impact they have on our well-being.