Why do we get into arguments and why do we continue engaging them once we’ve recognized they’ve begun? Most of the time, we don’t aim to argue when we enter into a discussion. In fact, a lot of us might say that they just seem to happen; as though independent of us or our involvement, arguments mysteriously happen. Luckily for us, arguments don’t just spring out of nowhere, and we can manage them in an effectively.
Don’t get me wrong; there are venues in which it’s an asset to don a steely arguing style. This kind of arguing has no place in our intimate relationships. Better save that for when you’re fighting for social justice.
When we’re arguing with someone, we love it’s most likely because both members were trying to be heard, seen, and understood. Somewhere during the conversation, we felt that our needs weren’t being met, we became frustrated, and our need to be right took over.
What we’ve begun to do- yell, blame, self-defend, none of it will be helpful to our connection with our loved one. It’s alienating and will take us further from our goal of connection and mutual understanding. As soon as we’re aware that we are stepping into or have already begun engagement in an argument, we need to pause. It’s helpful for us to think about what we were trying to communicate to our partner(s) at the start, before the yelling, before the detours.
Then, it’s helpful for us to be mindful of our voice. Lowering our tone and slowing our cadence begins to calm us and allows for our loved one(s) to calm. This gives us all some space to breathe, think about, and listen to what’s being said instead of enduring rapid fire. Do you notice that you’re talking over one another? Yeah, not a lot gets heard that way. Let’s make sure everyone is given their time to speak. Respect one another’s voice. If someone jumps in and starts talking over someone else, it’s ok to say something like, “Wait a minute, I’m not done,” or whatever you feel represents you.
Stay away from accusation and fabrication or hyperbole. Now is not the time for us to be critical or exaggerate about anything.
It’s also helpful for us to keep ourselves compassionately curious. Engaging our compassionate curiosity allows us to wonder about our loved one. Where are they coming from? What must they be feeling and why? What was their expectation and how is it different from what is presently happening? This encourages us to feel empathy for our loved one. It’s much less challenging to interact in a calm, respectful way that is easy to understand when you are coming from a place of compassion and empathy.
Once we’ve connected to our empathy, we can think about admitting our mistakes. Taking responsibility for any wrong-doing cleans up our side of the street and helps decrease any resentment experienced on the other side.
As the tension de-escalates and we ground ourselves, we have the energy to put toward respecting our partners’ opinions, experiences, and feelings, however, different from our own.
Once we’ve reached an agreement or tabled the discussion, it’s a great idea to exercise our humility with the proceedings and outcomes, whatever they are. We’re on the same team as our loved ones, remember? The objective is to feel more connected to and understood by one another, not alienated and distant. When we think about arguments in such terms, we allow ourselves to see that we’ve been misidentifying our actions when we refer to “winning an argument.”
Love and Be Loved,