Looking to strengthen fighting fair skill?
Are you someone who never argues because you think the easiest path to harmony is never voicing concerns? Or maybe you’re quick-tempered, and small disagreements often turn into all-out war.
Well, no matter what type of fighter you are, there’s probably some advice for you here.
Whether you fight a lot or not at all, it’s important to remember the following: Disagreements are a natural part of relating to others. In fact, occasional conflicts actually deepen relationships, if you can have them with empathy, your relationships will reach a whole new level of intimacy when you (couples) realize that you can be truthful and upfront about [issues], even when it comes to hard things.
However, the key is to fight with the same care and intention you use to express love.
Below, we share 7 tips to help with fighting fair.
Take a breath.
If you’re mad as hell (and you’re not going to take it anymore), one of the best things you can do is try to take a deep breath and remind yourself of your ultimate goal here.
You might practice diaphragmatic breathing, which activates your rest-and-digest response (the opposite of a stress response). For instance, you can put one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. Then breathe in and out slowly through your nose. Doing this gives you an opportunity to calm down and see the situation more holistically.
Zoom out and consider the other person’s needs alongside your own. If I am someone who can zoom out and say, this is what my partner needs, this is what I need, and this is what makes sense for both of us right now,’ you’ll approach the conflict more like a team.
Consider scheduling your conflict conversation.
A solid way to avoid an unfair fight is to tell your partner that you’d like to discuss a particular problem in advance—it’s the opposite of an ambush. that casually setting aside time to discuss specific issues allows your partner to think about them too. In doing this, they can (hopefully) approach the conversation with vulnerability instead of feeling attacked. Another idea? Settling disagreements via email can give partners time to organize their thoughts and articulate them with compassion.
Stick to the issue.
In the heat of the moment, it’s tempting to pack every single issue you’ve ever experienced into one epic fight. This is, er, overwhelming for the person you’re arguing with, and it’s not a productive way to talk about why you’re actually mad. Instead its better to stay focused on the one point you want to address, if the goal is to get to a workable solution.
Don’t fight to win.
After you remind yourself that you and your partner are on the same team, it’s helpful to try and suspend the urge to defeat your partner in battle. Your relationship isn’t a dictatorship, and it’s not really a democracy because there are two of you, so that leaves you with a compromise. (Even if there are more than two of you in your relationship, compromise is the best way to make sure all parties feel heard.) “You want to ask yourself how balanced compromise feels in the grand scheme of your relationship,” Dr. Jamea says. Real winning will probably involve working together.
Try to be receptive to each other’s concerns.
Perhaps your partner approaches you about an issue they’re having, and they want to discuss it. Or maybe you’ve come to the argument all riled up, but your partner has a solid explanation. No matter who is talking, it can be hard to remain open and receptive when you’re upset.
Repeat what you’re hearing.
One of the best ways to remain open is to repeat your partner’s statements so that they feel heard, understood, and can clarify if necessary. So you might say, “What I’m hearing is that you feel upset when you ask me to do something around the house and I never follow through.
This small tip allows each of you to strive for mutual understanding and common ground. It’s also helpful when things get tense. Sometimes hearing something back can be enough to interrupt someone’s tendency to say something hurtful.
Use “I” statements.
This is a go-to for any difficult conversation. When you frame unfavourable feedback about the other person, it can come off as critical instead of constructive. Using statements that focus on you can help the comments feel less harsh.
Before you get too creative with “I” statements, note that they shouldn’t include things like “I hate it when…” Instead, try phrases like, “When X happens, I feel Y.” This doesn’t eliminate all possible tension, but it can help your partner understand how you might be experiencing certain behaviours without coming off as unnecessarily judgmental or critical.