How to Fight Fair

Courtesy, Compromise and Common Sense in Conflict

It’s so logical… why is it so hard to do?

Because nobody taught you how. Not just you…. really, who do you know that has taken conflict training. Almost nobody has. That compounds the problem. Not only has nobody taught you…. guess what? Your spouse hasn’t been trained either.

This topic that has been written about many times and will many times more. The trick is to disagree (argue, fight) to resolve the quarrel without damaging the relationship. This week’s blog is a compilation of principles taken from a seminar I did with Dr. Harry Bradley, psychologist and new material I have pulled from articles found in my additional research.

When you don’t fight fair you add to the baggage that you carry around with you about your partner and how you feel about the relationship. And as I am fond of saying…. eventually there is too much baggage to be made into matched luggage. When you don’t end up with matched luggage it leads to separation and divorce.

Anger is our enemy
Terrible words spew out of our mouths and our “winner takes all” attitude takes over. Often it causes us to be our relationships own worst enemy. Remember you can win the argument and over time lose the war (marriage.) Terrible words once said, may be forgiven because of your love…. but it will never be forgotten.

Every Fight Has A Goal
If it’s worth fighting about have a goal on what will happen at the end. Think about what you want to gain with the argument. Know where you want the conversation to go. Get an idea what you are willing to comprise. Focus on what will make the issue not an issue or solve the problem. Concentrate on a win approach for both of you.

State the issue
No “You ” statements.Be clear as to exactly what the fight is about. Stop. Let’s look at that again. Be clear as to exactly what the fight is about. Stop. Again avoid “You did this.” Express the problem in terms of how the actions made you feel. You are on firm ground when you talk about how you feel. You only make them defensive when you talk about what “they did.”

Watch Your Language
Avoid following with character assassination, your amateur psychology insights, your psychic knowledge of what they were thinking have no place in fighting fair. Those types of statements are controlling, presumptuous and very damaging to your relationship’s future.

Keep the argument on topic
The problems that define the fight are best not put out there as you did this” statements Put things in terms of how whatever happened…. How does it make you feel?

I can’t say this enough. Keep talking about what the fight is about. Avoid tearing down your partner personally

Listen don’t plan
Listen carefully to what your partner is saying without interrupting or thinking about what you are going to say. Show the other person you are paying attention. One word notes only if you are taking notes.

At the conclusion of their statement, repeat back to them what they said as you heard it. Use their words when you can to make them understand you heard them. “If I heard you correctly, you said .”

Keep Down the Volume and Speed
When we’re angry we tend to get louder and faster in our communication. Our heart rate gets up and so does our spouse…. it’s an automatic reaction. Screaming at each other almost unintelligibly isn’t a relationship building activity. Honest. No matter what you saw your parents do.

When you find yourself or your partner being too loud… stop and slow the pace and volume down they will follow. It’s almost as automatic.

Don’t keep going back to old issues and old hurts
Most everybody has a tough time staying with the current fight. If you manage to avoid attacking your partner with character assassinations on them personality it’s half the battle?

The other half that trips most couples up is bringing up old issues and old hurts and inserting them into the current argument. You really can’t fix what happened before that didn’t get fixed. Concentrate on the here and now. Something you can get fixed.

Everybody Gets Equal Time
Just like the Presidential Debates, everybody gets a turn to speak without interruption. Very important. Without Interruption. See Listen Not Plan above…. Now we have Listen Not Plan or Interrupt.

Save the Anger for Big Stuff
Not every issue deserves equal anger. Lots of things can be confronted and resolved without being in Maximum Anger Mode.
Lose the desire to deliver ultimatums and vent your anger.

No physical or emotional abuse
I shouldn’t have to include this…. it’s just not permissible and obvious, but will be critiqued if I don’t.

Sometimes its good to take a break
Sometimes things get heated and nobody is budging and bad habits of arguing are beginning to take over the argument. Take a break.

Give your mind AND your body a chance to slow down.

Take the time to think about the other person’s viewpoint and think of possible ways including compromise to solve the issue.

How long. If you have to take a break then break for at least a half hour. It’s best though if you don’t wait too long. I think 24 hours more or less is as long as I would put off trying to come to a solution.

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