What are “fair fighting rules”, and how can they help us? At some point, most people who are in relationships will find themselves in conflict with a spouse, partner, or family member. The intensity of these arguments can range from mild to fiery eruptions of vitriol and anger. Knowing how to keep disagreements focused and fair is critical. Here are ten tips that might help your next argument go better!
1. Reflect on why you are upset before you start talking.
2. Limit your argument to a single issue. Pick one, and stick to it.
3. Separate your thoughts and your emotions.
At some point in our life, we have probably heard someone say “I feel like you don’t care” or “I feel like this is not important to you”. While we understand the sentiment behind these statements from a conversational perspective, “You don’t care” and “This is not important” are not things you feel. These are thoughts, which likely result in feelings, such as anger, frustration, sadness, or hurt. Discriminating our thoughts and feelings help us more effectively communicate because ideas are more negotiable during a debate, whereas challenging someone’s feelings will likely be ineffective, if not inflammatory.
4. Discuss the problem, not the person.
“You left the toilet seat up again!” is a very different statement than “You’re such a slob!” Personal put-downs, swearing, or name-calling only serves to heighten the intensity of our emotions during disagreements and detracts from the real issues at hand.
5. Take Turns.
6. Listen to understand. Not to respond.
7. Stop Stonewalling
8. Don’t Yell.
10. When all else fails, take a break.
Are you struggling with fair fighting rules or communicating with others?
About the Author:
Dr. Benson Munyan is a Clinical Psychologist licensed in both Florida and Arizona. He is the Director of Neurocove Behavioral Health and specializes in the assessment and treatment of anxiety, depression, and trauma-related disorders. Dr. Munyan earned his Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the University of Central Florida. He currently holds clinical privileges at both Neurocove Behavioral Health and the Orlando Veteran’s Affairs Healthcare System. He has also previously published clinical research and articles in peer-reviewed journals including PLoS One and Clinical Case Studies.
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