First, ask yourself, “Do I really want to stop these arguments or do I just want to get my own way?” You can’t have both!
Now reflect on your fears as described in “Arguments”; be prepared to share your real feelings, rather than your differing opinion about how things should be done.
Here are five techniques that help to stop arguments*:
- Mirroring. This is saying things like: “So I understand that you are saying …” Then repeat back your partner’s view without adding your opinion. (And without sarcasm or mocking tone!) Or “So you are saying that …” any phrase you choose which announces that you are no longer fighting but have changed to a position of curiosity about understanding your partner’s opinion at a deeper level. This marks a huge shift to putting the relationship above your own need to be in the right. (Difficult!) Then listen, mirroring sometimes, for as long as it takes for your partner to feel completely satisfied that you understand.
- “I” language. STOP saying anything about your partner. START talking about your own feelings: “When this happened, I feared or I felt ….” If you have to mention your partner say: “I made up that you …”or “It seemed to me that you …” (See I and you language)
- Two Realities. Another argument stopper is taking your partner’s point of view at face value and seriously. Stop focusing on what you think is your partner’s motivation: lies, stupidity, manipulation etc. Focus only on the version you are hearing right now. Allow your partner’s version to exist. Allow that there can be two different realities – yours and his/hers. Use validation
- Body Language. If you truly want arguments to stop you will also have to stop: raising your eyes, glaring, sighing, smirking, turning away in distain, “tutting” or shrugging etc. And anything that your partner might find physically threatening – throwing, shouting, banging, coming too close etc.
- Mirroring Again. If the argument re-starts always return to mirroring. You may have to wait until tomorrow to put your opinion, but it’s worth it!
Only when you both truly feel understood and taken seriously can you start looking at how to move forward or find compromises about the issues in dispute.
*This site highly recommends Intentional Dialogue as a disciplined way of discussing things.
With thanks to:
Getting the Love You Want by H Hendrix,
Nonviolent Communication by M B Rosenberg,
Creative Listening by R Pinney
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