Monday, May 3, 2010

Argument Busters

The strategies below can be used to interrupt conflict patterns at any time. Try some small experiment in changing your own behaviour or responses. Notice what helps and do more of what works for you. Remember that relapse into familiar patterns is normal and it is persistence and practice that will bring about lasting change. Add your own ideas to this list and keep it nearby where you can refer to it.

Before an argument starts

  • Warn the other person if you are feeling frustrated, stressed or tired
  • Cut the other person some slack if they are feeling this way and don’t try to give them negative feedback at this time or when they are intoxicated
  • Distract your attention away from what you are stressing about
  • Ask yourself if it is really that important
  • Release any tension through deep breathing, talking with a support person, through exercise, or engaging in an interest or passion
  • Think before you speak “Will what I am about to do or say help or hurt this relationship”
  • Tell yourself that “The problem is likely to be with me” and consider changes you can make with what you are doing and thinking

During an argument

  • Don’t add ‘fuel to the fire’ through criticising, blaming, exploding, withdrawing or dwelling excessively on the past (except when your partner needs empathy about the past)
  • Remember that is it is more important to understand than it is to be understood
  • Remind yourself that there is more than one way to see a situation
  • Acknowledge the other person’s perspective and their feelings
  • If they are upset with you, apologise sincerely wherever you can for your part of the argument, for how your behaviour came across, or for the misunderstanding
  • Agree wherever you can, if not for what they are saying, then for what they are wanting
  • Share your own opinion respectfully (after you have first shown understanding) by saying, “This is how I see it …” and have as laid-back a tone of voice as possible
  • Be specific about what you want or would prefer, rather than what you don’t want
  • Offer a compromise or something for the future that involves effort just by you or by both of you. When a compromise or offer is accepted, make sure that you do what you said
  • Do something unexpected (that is safe and respectful) such as humour, a loving touch, etc
  • If required, exit and wait till you or both of you are in a better frame of mind to talk. This works best if agreed by both parties beforehand and there is an agreement about a specific time when you will talk about the relevant issue

After an argument

  • Whatever you normally do to make up, do it sooner
  • Remember to apologise wherever you can or consider trying some creative ways of making up, such as, a letter, singing your apology, or even an apology using a pet or sock puppet as a prop
  • Offer your understanding of their perspective and feelings
  • Ask the other person if they want a hug, or a loving touch on the arm or hand
  • Ask them what the best way is that you can make amends and do what they ask if you can
  • Offer something for the future that is also considerate of the other person’s wants/needs
  • Discuss what you can learn from this and what you both did that helped
  • Agree on a time you will talk about any outstanding issues and reach an understanding
  • If required, consider using another person who you both respect to help resolve the issue

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