Anatomy of an Argument: Step 1 - When Arguing, First Focus on *Your Own* Reactions

Couples naturally argue and disagree over almost anything you can imagine.

Fighting with your spouse or significant other can be healthy in that you are standing up for yourself and letting your feelings and intentions be known. You are telling your views and opinions. That’s great!  But are you doing this effectively?  In a series of posts I am writing, we will look at the anatomy of an effective and appropriate fight.  In this first post, we dissect why the first step in arguing effectively is focusing on your own reactions.

When we get into an argument, we are presenting our case for why the other person should come over to our side and our way of thinking…because we are more right, right?  WRONG.  In all likelihood, the other person’s opinions and beliefs are just as valid as yours.  HUH?  Yep, if you take a step back and really think about it, they just have a different viewpoint than yours.  You might not like or agree with that viewpoint, but it isn’t necessarily wrong.  Right?  People show up in the world in all sorts of different ways and you can’t make somebody wrong because they disagree with you.  The only thing you accomplish is that both of you will end up digging your heels in deeper. You each get more and more defensive.  When we get defensive, we slip into our bad habits and then we are off and running.

The first step in a successful disagreement is to focus on your own reactions.  If you can do this, you will automatically help manage the other person.  If you come out with guns blazing, you are instantly pushing all the buttons of the other person.  Their defenses will naturally go up and you have now created the perfect storm.  Want to know a better way?

In order to get somebody to listen to your opinion, you need to make sure you are acting in ways that are optimal for this to happen.  You want to get your way, right?  You must make sure you are coming to the table as calm as you can be with a tone and facial expression that isn’t off-putting. If you don’t, good luck.  Take a few minutes prior to engaging and take a few deep breaths.  Tell yourself that you are going to engage in this process in a calm and collected way.  You have valid points and the other person probably has some, too.  If you head into the conversation with an all-or-nothing-your-way-only attitude, they will sense this immediately and nobody will get their needs met.  Make it easy for your spouse or partner to give you exactly what you want!

Always remember that if you manage yourself, you manage the other.  In the next post we will explore how to avoid a judgmental attitude, the second habit that all successful couples have in their back pocket.

Here’s to fighting effectively!  Please call me and I will give you all the knowledge I have on fighting fair.  I help couples navigate arguments daily, let me help you, too.