10 Rules for Fair Fighting

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Stick to the present. Don’t bring up past mistakes that nothing can be done about.
  3. Stick to the subject. At the time of the argument, address one issue at a time.
  4. Don’t hit below the belt. Attack the issue, not the person. Treat each other with mutual respect during the argument.
  5. Don’t quit, work it out. Bring the fight to a mutual conclusion. Otherwise, it will just reoccur.
  6. Don’t try to win, EVER. If one wins, the other loses. That builds resentment about the relationship. Avoid ultimatums.
  7. 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.
  8. Don’t involve others. Only those directly involved in the conflict need to be in the discussion and attempt to resolve it.
  9. Agree to disagree. Every issue won’t be resolved but appropriate discussion of issues can lead to increased understanding.
  10. 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.



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