While everyone can argue, not all people can argue well. It’s an art form to constructively argue. Sometimes, a well-handled argument can even improve a couple’s relationship. When things go wrong, however, it can lead to a host of unresolved issues. These interactions can lead to toxic relationships and delay the resolution of issues that could otherwise benefit a couple.
Penny Mansfield co-directs OnePlusOne, a relationship support charity. Katharine Landells works as a partner at Withers’ Family family law firm surrey team. They have many years of experience in negotiating with couples. These tips will not help you win an argument, but help you find a compromise or a solution.
1. Keep calm
Be aware of the effect your emotions have on how you communicate. You may find it difficult to communicate if you aren’t calm. You can take a deep breath and give yourself a pep-talk or count to 10. You can do what you have to calm those emotions and still be able to express your views.
2. Don’t retaliate
It is exhausting and difficult to win a tennis match full of accusations and blame. This approach creates polarization and creates a battle. It’s time for you to stop engaging if you recognize that this is happening.
3. Listen attentively and patiently
Listening to someone else’s point of view is impossible. We get annoyed and frustrated when we don’t feel heard. Pay attention to the body language of the other person and try to understand what is being said. Recognizing what you heard is a great step towards positive change, even if you disagree with the other person.
4. Talk to yourself
Focus on what you feel about something that has upset or been criticized. It is easier to say, “I feel …'” than, “You did that or that”. Do not assume that the other person understands how you feel.
5. Talk clearly
Talk about your goals and plans. Do not tell your ex what you need to do differently. Instead, think about what is best for your children and how you can work together to make it happen.
6. Focus on the points that you can agree upon
You don’t have to compromise to reach a solution. Find the things you can all agree on and make a positive move to solve the problem. Recognize that the best solution is one you both can agree to, and put into work.
7. See if their solution makes sense.
Sometimes it’s difficult to see the point of another person’s view, especially in the middle of an argument. But, if you can do that, you will be one step closer to resolving the problem.
8. When you are in the wrong, apologize
Recognize when you’ve misunderstood or overreacted. Respect creates an environment that encourages cooperation. You might even be able to stop an argument from happening.
9. Recognize their feelings
To show your appreciation, make small gestures. Show respect for their opinions, even if they don’t agree with you.