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How to talk your way out of an argument

October 10, 2012

Ever found yourself arguing with your partner or spouse and getting to the point where you’ve forgotten what it’s actually about?

Often, conflict in relationships is not about what we’re actually saying.  It can be all about the subtext, and when resentment builds we use words or phrases as weapons rather than as opportunities to resolve issues.

The 2005 bestselling book “The Mind Gym”, put together by psychologists, speaks about “getting hooked” into an argument by an opening line that is aggressive.  Here are five ways to resist the temptation:

  1. Learn to spot the triggers: a comment with an implied meaning, a loaded question, an unusual reaction of surprise or irritating to something you’ve said.
  2. You may be in your rights to respond forcefully, but before you do, ask what it is in your best interest?
  3. What are the other person’s motives? If they are good them allow them a little insensitivity, if you are unsure then ask open, neutral questions to find out more.
  4. Focus on the facts of the issue rather than the emotion that may lie behind them.
  5. Avoid interpreting what they say about the issue as what they may or may not think about you – and vice versa.

Slow down when you can see an argument approaching, and keep an eye for opportunities to “detox the conflict”.  There’s always more going on beneath the surface.

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