In any long-term relationship, be it between romantic partners, friends, or colleagues, there will be disagreements. As you may have experienced, these can easily turn into all-out verbal fights resulting in hurt feelings and resentment. This sort of turmoil can damage and eventually end relationships.
Fighting fair takes some practice, especially if you have a temper to check, but it's worth it for the health of your relationship — and for creating win-win situations that benefit, rather than hurt, everyone involved.
1. Don't blindside the other person.
Sometimes disagreements pop up when they pop up, but if you've been allowing something to fester, give the other person fair warning that it's something you need to talk about. Don't bring it up while he's getting ready for work, when her lunch break is almost over, or when you're both tired and cranky. You're going to need time and space to work this through, so find a time when you can both focus on the issue.
2. Stay in the present.
It's not fair to bring up past transgressions. You've either gotten past those or not, and if not, that's a separate discussion. If those past mistakes have no relevance to the current situation, bringing them up is not going to help solve the disagreement.
3. No name-calling.
It's immature and unhelpful. Generalizing someone's behavior by calling him lazy, stupid, inconsiderate, or a jerk is not only inaccurate, it's going to hurt his feeling or make her defensive, which is not going to help you reach a resolution.
4. Strive for clear communication.
Ask for feedback about how your message was received. Take responsibility for how you make your case. It's not the other person's responsibility to understand something if you can't explain it.
There are two sides to this and they are equally important. Don't get so stuck in your own idea of what's right that you refuse to explore the other point of view, even if you can't agree with it. Stay quiet and let the other person say everything she needs to say. You'll get your turn and will appreciate the same consideration.
6. Stay calm.
Getting angry encourages anger in the other person, as well, while staying calm creates a safe space where you can both air your grievances and find a common ground. You might feel hurt or angry, but that anger doesn't have to show itself in the form of yelling, eye rolling, or exasperated sighs.
7. Don't walk away.
It's incredibly frustrating to the partner left behind and only serves to build more anger and resentment. If you can't resolve the issue, make sure you both agree to end the discussion for now and pick it up at a later time.
8. Take responsibility for your own feelings.
No one can make you happy or sad; we each react to events in our own way. One person might laugh at something that disgusts another person, and it has nothing to do with the "something" and everything to do with our own interpretation of it. Holding your partner responsible for the way you feel means you've given away your own power, and it sets him or her up for failure.
9. Remember the mission.
Chances are, you both want the best, you just have different ways of approaching it. Understand the goal you're both trying to achieve, and work toward it throughout your discussion.
10. Move on.
Hopefully, you'll be able to reach a solution where everyone benefits. If you feel like you had to compromise, make a decision to accept the outcome and work with it. If it's something you can't live with, that's a decision, too — if it was a huge argument about a serious issue, it might mean moving on from the partner, friend, or job. In less serious cases, acceptance doesn't mean you agree, it just means you're not going to let it ruin your day, and you're not going to let it show up in future disagreements.
Do you remember these tips when arguing with your significant other? What other tactics do you use to keep things clean?