Just last week, a couple called and set up an appointment to discuss their relationship problems. The issue they were having was communicating with each other. We all have those days that no matter how hard we try to get our point across it causes an argument. We try to make sense of our words to the person we are talking to and when we don’t get it, they give you that look of “What did you just say?” So we try again to explain what was just said, but it only makes matters worse. The frustration level goes up and the listening skills go down. That’s when you need to walk away from an escalating disagreement. It will only get worse if you don’t. I hear it all the time when I counsel couples who can’t argue without hurtful words.When people have arguments, what is the root cause of the disagreement? There are many reasons. For most, it’s not having a game plan when they sit down and talk. Many will fly by the seat of their pants and, come what may, find themselves totally side-tracked and off topic, making matters worse. They end up arguing about things that has no bearing on what the initial discussion was actually about. Plan to be specific about your issues and what your expectations are to get them resolved.
Case in point: Let’s say you have neighbor whose dog barks all night. The dog is keeping you up and you are not getting any sleep. This has been going on for weeks and you are at your wits end. So what do you do? There are many options. Do you call the police? Do you talk to your neighbor? Do you rally the neighborhood against your next door neighbor? Do you say or do nothing? Which one would you pick? They all have good and bad consequences.
Calling the police about the dog might cause a problem for you, as the neighbor would question you and ask why didn’t talk to them first. Then bad feelings might come between you. You may have an issue with the neighbor and feel a face-to-face conversation might spiral out of control. They might tell you to mind your own business and shut the door on you. Then if you rally the whole neighborhood against him/her you have created an ugly situation that may never heal. Which one would you choose and why? This is a pretty typical problem many deal with across the country.
In a situation like this, I suggest that before you go see your neighbor, you need a game plan. You don’t want to get emotional. It’s important you stick with the facts and talk calmly. There is no need to argue about a barking dog. Listen to the responses from your neighbor and try to reason with them. If your neighbor starts to argue with you, don’t continue the discussion. It’s over, finished. There is no use in trying to reason with somebody who will not listen to you. If you are seeing anger and frustration building up, then you need to walk away. There is no reason to get into a heated argument only to make matters worse. This is where many people get themselves into trouble. They continue to fight and argue. If it’s important to you to get your point across, do it calmly, do not raise your voice, and stick to your points. Listen as the other person responds and don’t interrupt. As they speak to you make, sure you listen and don’t think about your response as they speak. One of the biggest problems in an argument is neither person is listening to the other. They are thinking about how to respond and have blocked out what the other person is saying. If you cannot follow the guidelines to arguing, then it’s perfectly OK to walk away and end the argument. Here are my tips to have a civil argument:
- Have a plan before meeting the person you have a disagreement with.
- Go with an open mind.
- Don’t interrupt while the person is speaking.
- Listen carefully to what is being said.
- Talk softly.
- Don’t yell or scream.
- Know when to walk away and end the argument.
- Try to be positive and respectful during argument.
These are pretty simple rules to follow. If you do, you will find that arguments or disagreements can be handled in a respectful way. Both can be winners, and that is your ultimate goal.
In closing, I want to share a story with you about a friend of mine who had a huge argument with his wife. They were fighting over who would get the dog in their upcoming divorce. No doubt they both loved this dog equally. They both made unreasonable demands of each other about their dog. You would swear this was almost like a child custody case. After weeks of unresolved issues, I gave them my rules for arguing. I sat down with both of them and asked them, “Are you listening to each other? Do your arguments get heated?” They both agreed that they did. I then asked them if they knew when to quit arguing and end it? They both looked at me puzzled. There is a time, I told them, that continuing an argument that is going nowhere, is best ended immediately. I told them to just walk away and sort things out in their mind. Then schedule a time to meet and go over their points in a constructive manner. You will find when you do this that you will fight less and get more accomplished.
Master Life Coaching, Divorce coaching and counseling is affordable, accessible, anonymous and available by appointment from the privacy of your own home. Avoid travel time and never leave the comfort of your home to meet with me. I have many out-of-state clients who prefer to meet over the phone 303.456.0555 or via Skype (drmike45). The convenience of this type of coaching is the most effective means of Life Coaching for those who live out of the Denver-metro area or are out of the state of Colorado.