How to Turn a Fight into a Constructive Dialogue
Learning to argue effectively is a skill we all need, especially now.
As I’m writing this story, everybody I know is quarantined due to the COVID-19. Among many other inconveniences, we now find ourselves confined with the same people all day, every day.
No matter how much we love and appreciate someone, the more time we spend with them, the more we argue. It’s only natural.
The problem is, when we mishandle a disagreement, it intensifies. The escalation becomes a race to slander and even hurt each other — no wonder why some people avoid confrontation at all costs.
But there’s another side to the coin. Psychology suggests that arguing facilitates expression and awareness of another’s feelings and perspectives.
A lot of information is made available in times of conflict. When we fight, we share thoughts, intentions, feelings, and even solutions. These pieces of information are all important and worthy of exploration.
Arguing effectively is about embracing conflict as a healthy part of our relationships. The idea is to use communication tools to achieve mutual understanding and solve the problem we’re facing.
1 — Play as a team
Despite being filled with negative emotions, when I fight, I’m always trying to solve a problem — looking for a solution. I think we all do. Yet, we somehow end up far away from the common ground where our frustration and anger are attenuated. We become too blind to see that we’re not enemies, but instead, we’re teammates. In reality, we’re both unhappy about a situation and trying to figure it out.
Motivational speaker Jay Shetty said it better:
“When you’re fighting, remember that it is not you against each other, it’s both of you against the problem.”
There are simple ways to remind your counterpart of Shetty’s words.
- Be specific: make sure that you are focusing on the current problem and the current problem only. Avoid general terms like “always” and “never,” especially when complaining about misbehavior or a…