I found the basis for this post after a therapy session with my husband several years ago. This has been the basis of a complete shift in how we communicate with each other. It’s worked so well, I’ve carried these suggestions over into my personal and business relationships.
Arguing is a fact of life. How you argue however, can determine the long-term success or failure in any kind of relationship — especially true for how you end an argument.
Dr. Phil says that a primary requirement for any fight is to maintain control. You do not have the license to be childish, abusive or immature.
You are entitled to give a reasonable voice to your feelings in a constructive way. Disagreements are going to occur. The question is, do you go into it with a spirit of looking for resolution or do you go into it with a spirit of getting even, vengeance, control? You’ll never win if you do that.
If you make your relationship a competition, that means your spouse, colleague or friend has to lose in order for you to win.
The truth is that it’s not a competition. All of these different types of relationships are in fact a partnership.
So the next time you find yourself in an argument, here are 10 rules to follow:
- Fight by mutual consent. Don’t insist on an argument at a time when one of you can’t handle the strain. A good fight demands two ready participants. Agree when to stop and start the argument.
- Stick to the present. Don’t bring up past mistakes that nothing can be done about.
- Stick to the subject. At the time of the argument, address one issue at a time.
- Don’t hit below the belt. Attack the issue, not the person. Treat each other with mutual respect during the argument.
- Don’t quit, work it out. Bring the fight to a mutual conclusion. Otherwise, it will just reoccur.
- Don’t try to win, EVER. If one wins, the other loses. That builds resentment about the relationship. Avoid ultimatums.
- Respect crying. Crying is a feeling just like smiling. Don’t let the crying sidetrack you or then make the argument about the crying. Crying is a valid response to how we feel.
- Don’t involve others. Only those directly involved in the conflict need to be in the discussion and attempt to resolve it.
- Agree to disagree. Every issue won’t be resolved but appropriate discussion of issues can lead to increased understanding.
- No violence. Physical violence violates all of the above rules.
Dr. Phil says that how an argument ends is crucial. Learn to recognize when an olive branch is being extended to you — perhaps in the form of an apology or a joke — and give the other person a way out of the disagreement.
You have a choice. Arguments should be temporary, don’t let them get out of hand.