It’s Amok Time
WHY would you care about, or even try, FAIR FIGHTING especially if the other doesn’t? Well, because you’ve decided that YOU are the one to change, no one else. You’re living YOUR WAY – your TAO – and part of that is to also take care of yourself. The fair fighting rules, guidelines, or whatever you want to call them, help YOU with that. It helps YOU to understand the situation, and even yourself a little better. You control YOU. These are just some of the tools you can use to teach yourself to do that a little better.
You’ve decided it’s been enough of the fly by the seat of your pants, react to everything everyone does mentality and behaviour you’ve slowly, but surely, have adopted as your go to response – to everything. You’re controlling your own ‘burn’ now. You decide that communication, understanding, and truth is the goal and more important to a discussion or ‘fight,’ rather than making sure the other person knows your right.
Try using these rules ON YOURSELF, and see what happens. Even one or two. Especially the ones about no name calling, brown bagging, and ‘always’ statements. Just those alone would change your life. But it takes work. Work in RE-training yourself to be if not ‘nice’ to yourself, then maybe just ‘professional,’ in how you deal with things in general and approaching problems in particular.
These rules or guidelines are designed to help you switch from just fighting, or spinning your wheels, to solving problems and moving on to the good, or at least better, things. As with most things, it takes time to learn and even longer to incorporate new behaviour, so have patience and keep trying. It IS worth it. Solving your problems in a constructive way adds to your peace and calm, not fighting your way to more misunderstandings and frustrations.
You’re ‘fighting’ to hopefully solve a problem that one or both of you have. To have a mutually respectful, beneficial, supportive, fun, you name it relationship. Not to fight for the sake of fighting. That’s called debate, and they have clubs for that.
- Remain calm. All is well. Try not to overreact to difficult situations, people, triggers, or even life. By remaining calm it’s more likely that others will consider your viewpoint.
- Be specific about what is bothering you. Vague complaints are hard to work on. State the problem clearly, sticking to the facts. Once you’ve stated the facts, state your feelings using “I” messages to describe the anger, hurt, or disappointment. Avoid “you” messages such as, “you make me angry….”; instead, try something like, “I feel angry when you….”
- Focus on solving a problem/reaching a solution rather than just venting your anger or winning a fight.
- Deal with one issue at a time. It’s not constructive, not fair, and time consuming piling several complaints into one session.
- Stay focused on the present. Don’t refer to past mistakes and incidences, for the thousandth time. No garbage-dumping!
- Take responsibility. Use “I” statements as a way to show you are taking responsibility for your own feelings and actions. Conversely…
- Don’t Blame. Don’t use “you” statements which automatically blame, making the other person defensive.
- Be direct and honest about your feelings and what you want. That’s why you’re fighting in the first place.
- Listen and hear! Try to deal with the other person’s perceptions of the situation as well as your own. Be aware of his/her feelings as well as your own. Check to see whether what you heard is really what the other person is trying to express, and ask him to let you know what she hears you saying.
- No finger pointing.
- Give the other person equal time. Both people need to express their feelings and points of view to create a full mutual understanding.
- Attack the issue, not the person. Name-calling puts people in a position to respond angrily and defensively. This is usually used when a person feels he is losing. Name-calling breaks down communication and destroys trust in the relationship.
- Brainstorm solutions. Be willing to compromise. Give a little to get a little.
- Ask questions that will clarify, not judge. A question should never begin with the word “why.” That puts people on the defensive — and we know that defensiveness stops conversation rather than continues it.
- Take a breather by paraphrasing what you think you heard them saying. “I understand you want to tell me about your day but I need a few minutes to finish what I am doing.” This gives you time to think about your response.
- Give each other the ability to withdraw or change their mind.
- Speak softly. Keeping the volume levels down tend to keep the conflict and misunderstanding levels down as well. No one wants to talk with someone who’s yelling.
- Identify and define your issue or topic, and stick to it! Don’t change the subject or bring in unrelated items. If you have a different item you’d like discuss, save it for the next discussion.
- No stonewalling – This only creates MORE frustration even if you think you’re being ‘nice’ or diplomatic by not saying anything.
- Don’t be afraid to apologize when you are wrong. It shows you are trying.
- Don’t argue about details. Avoid exchanges like, “You were 20 minutes late,” “No, I was only 13 minutes late.” (An easy way to distract from the problem.)
- Do not assume, guess, imagine, take for granted, theorize, surmise, speculate, make gestures, judgments, funny glances or faces about what your partner means. Find out! TOO MANY PEOPLE – MOSTLY ALL – ASSUME. DON’T, IT’S A SABATEUR. You know what assuming does…
- Don’t read the other person’s mind.
- Don’t expect the other person to read your mind. They’re, more than likely, also in a rage haze.
- Don’t say “always” and “never”. (“You always…” “You never…”) These are usually exaggerations and will put the other person on the defensive.
- Don’t interrupt, talk over or make comments while the other person is speaking. Watch your non-verbal expressions too. Rolling eyes, smirking, yawning etc. all work against fair fighting.
- Don’t walk away or leave without saying, “I’ll be back”.
- Don’t save up feelings and dump them all at once, try to air feelings often.
- Don’t make comparisons to other people, stereotypes, or situations.
- Don’t play games. A game is when you’re coy or untruthful about your feelings, and when you’re not being direct and honest about what you want or need in a situation. Examples of games are; poor me; silent treatment; martyr; don’t touch me; uproar; kick me; if it weren’t for you…; yes, but…; see what you made me do; and if you loved me…
- Don’t involve other people’s opinions of the situation. The only opinions which are relevant are those of the two attempting to communicate at the time.
- Don’t make threats. Threats back people into a corner and they may choose the ultimatum in order to save face. You may find later you really do not want to carry out your threat.
- Propose specific solutions, and invite the other person to propose solutions, too.
- Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each proposal.
- Be willing to compromise. Allowing the other person only one option will make it difficult to resolve the concern. When you reach an agreement on a way forward, celebrate! Decide to check-in with one another, schedule a time and stick to it, to discuss how things are working, and make changes as necessary. If no solution has been reached regarding the original problem, schedule a time to revisit the issue and continue the discussion.
Next time – Conflict Don’ts!