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How to Win an Argument with Your Loved One
By Jennifer Sober   View more articles by this author
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October 06

Imagine this scenario.  You have just spent the entire afternoon cleaning up the house.  Your loved one comes home and sheds his or her dirty clothes on the floor on the way to the shower.  Hours later, you notice the clothes still strewn about the room. To make matters worse, this is not the first time this has happened.  You feel ready for battle, but how do you make sure you come out a winner? 

First thing first is gain control over your anger.  If your body is in warrior mode, the other person will pick up on this and go straight on the defensive.  Disarm your body with some deep breathing and muscle relaxation before you engage the other person.

Second, figure out what you really are mad about.  Often, you need to dive beneath the surface to find the bigger issue underneath.  Is it really just the clothes on the floor, or is it that you feel disrespected and underappreciated that the other person hasn’t bothered to consider the three hours of housework you just put in? 

Third, plan your delivery.  If you walk into the room guns ablaze, your mate will be more concerned with taking cover than listening to what you have to say.  Starting a sentence with “You….” is seldom a good idea.  Many times, it can cause the other person to stop listening and move to the defensive mode.  Utterances such as “you never” and “you always” are the verbal equivalences of shooting oneself in the foot, forcing your mate to immediately bring up exceptions to your statement.  Attacks on their character (i.e. “you’re such a slob”) may feel good momentarily but will not get you closer to your goal. The best strategy is to be specific, explain your feelings, and focus on the other person’s behavior instead of his or her character (for example, “I get really upset when I find clothes on the floor because it makes me feel disrespected and unappreciated”).

Always keep your eye on the goal.  This is not the time to bring up the five other issues that irritate you about the person.  Stay focused on just one issue at a time.  Otherwise, the argument easily can go on tangents and away from the resolution you want. If your mate starts bringing up issues that he or she has with you, do not automatically dismiss them.  That will only escalate the situation.  Instead, say something like, “I understand you have these issues with me, and I will be happy to discuss those with you.  But I would like to resolve this issue first.”  You will automatically lose if you resort to name calling or acting out by hitting, throwing things or screaming.  This is guaranteed either to shut your mate down in fear or anger or rev him or her up to the blasting point. 

The final step is to find a resolution with which you both can live.  This is when you can talk about what you would like to see from each other.   Avoid overly general or attacking suggestions (“I want you to stop being such a pig”).  Instead, talk about specific behaviors you would like to see in the future (“I want to see you put your dirty clothes in the basket in the closet”).  Tell them why you want to see those changes (“I would feel really respected and appreciated if you did that”).  Tell them what is in it for them (“I know you don’t like me nagging, and this would really help me to cut down on that behavior”). 

What if you do everything right and your loved one still does not agree or change his or her behavior?  In a way, you still have “won” because you have maintained a relationship with someone you love in the midst of a conflict instead of tearing down the relationship.

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Comment by sandrabutler148
17 Nov 2020 02:35 AM
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9 Sep 2020 07:01 AM
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