Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Don't Fight Dirty: 4 Tips for Keeping Arguments Squeaky Clean

When we're angry, it's all too easy to slip into
bad habits and dirty fighting tactics . Our
voices rise, our tempters heat, and the
name-calling and worse can begin. We
know we're not doing anything but making
an already uncomfortable situation worse, but in the
heat of a fight, it's not always easy to step back and take
a turn for the high road. So, to help us all out—because I
am guilty of these too!—I've identified four dirty fighting
tactics and how we can work to avoid them during our
next disagreements.

Overgeneralizing: Your guy never picks up after himself,
and he's always late. While it may feel as if he hasn't
folded a single shirt in an entire year, that's likely not the
case—and making the statement as if it's gospel truth
will only sting him and exaggerate the issue at hand.
Instead, zero in on what's bothering you now, and do
your best to concisely explain why. Then work together
to find a solution so you won't be tempted to think, here
he goes again. For example, "I know it's just five
minutes, but when you're late, I feel like what we're got
planned isn't important to you. Can we work this out so
that next time, you can make our date on time?"

Blaming him: If it weren't for him, you wouldn't have
found yourselves in this ugly little situation. It's his fault
and you are the blameless victim, hurt by his callous
actions alone. Maybe this is true once in a blue moon—
but generally, the rule of thumb is that it takes two to
argue. As a control freak, I happen to love spinning this
dirty fighting tactic around. After all, if it's all his fault,
what can you do to change the situation? But if you're
willing to focus on yourself, admit out loud how you
contributed to the problem, and offer up a way to fix it,
you're already halfway back to better. And I promise you,
with this kind of humility and willingness to take
responsibility, your S.O. will soon follow suit

Engaging in a complaint war: Let's ignore the fact that I
did indeed belittle you, dear, and instead focus on how
you forgot to pick me up last week. Whatever he's got to
say, you've got a (likely unrelated) complaint to throw
back his way. But you can't advance the conversation or
solve a problem if you only answer his concerns with
those of your own. Rather than hurling back what he's
done wrong, take a deep breath and force yourself to
focus on what he just said. Repeat it to yourself, try to
understand it, and if you can't, ask him to explain. He'll
feel heard and you'll feel better in moments when you
realize you haven't escalated the situation.

Labeling or name-calling: He's just so childish. And
selfish. And crazy! Because no mature, caring, sane
person would behave the way he has. When your feelings
are hurt or you otherwise feel misunderstood or uncared
for, it's natural to assign labels to the one who's hurt
you. And while what your S.O. did or said very well may
have been childish, selfish, or crazy, he is likely not
those things. Stick to talking about the action or words
without assigning a characteristic to him. So rather than
spitting out, "You're so selfish," try, "When you didn't
ask what I wanted to do tonight, it felt like you didn’t
care about my opinion. Is that the case?" Hopefully, he'll
realize what he thought was a harmless action had
hurtful effects, and he'll consider your opinions next

Do you have any tips for how to keep a fight from getting
dirty? Or, if you find it hard to keep arguments clean,
which dirty fighting tactic do you struggle with most?


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