Dos and Don'ts For Fair Fighting
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|Tue, 08-30-2005 - 1:42am|
1. Speak from an "I" position - "I think...I feel...I believe...I wish...I fear". A true "I" position conveys your own experiences and reactions without criticizing or blaming the other. Watch out for "pseudo-I positions", or "disguised-you positions" - "I feel that you need to control everything".
2. Sort out who owns the problem. Get clear on the boundaries of individual responsibility. Let other people own their own problems and take responsibility for their own reactions.
3. Avoid below-the-belt tactics: blaming, interpreting, diagnosing, labeling, analyzing, preaching, moralizing, ordering, warning, interrogating, ridiculing, lecturing, distracting, withdrawing. Don't put the other person down.
4. Confine yourself to one issue at a time. Always stay in the here-and-now. Bringing up the past is a diversionary tactic. There may be a time to discuss past grievances, but not during a fight.
5. Talk in specifics. Avoid generalizations and vague complaints. If the other person is vague - ("You're insensitive". "You don't give enough". "You're difficult to work with".) - request clarification, including specific examples.
6. Avoid mind reading. Never assume you or your partner know, or should know what has not been explicitly stated in words.
7. A cold withdrawal is dirty fighting. Taking time out to get clear and centered is reasonable and fair.
8. Listen carefully to others and be receptive to feedback. If you begin to get defensive, go into "active listening".
9. Learn to apologize quickly when an apology is due - before things escalate. Learn also to say "I don't know", "I'm not sure", "I'm not clear", or "I need more time to sort out where I stand on that".
10. Never tell another person what s/he thinks or feels, or "should" think or feel. If another attacks your thoughts and feelings, you do not need to provide logical arguments to back them up. Better to calmly say, "Well it may seem crazy or irrational to you, but this is the way I feel".
11. Learn to appreciate that there are multiple realities. If you are fighting about who has "The Truth, you may be missing the point. Differing views of reality and conflicting wishes and preferences don't mean one person is "wrong". Your legitimate anger does not mean the other person is to blame.
12. REMEMBER -- THE ONLY PERSON YOU CAN CHANGE IS YOURSELF. DON'T TRY TO CHANGE OR CONTROL ANOTHER PERSON. IT DOESN'T WORK!
-Dr. Harriet Goldhar Lerner