How to Argue… Productively (and what not to do)

22 Jul

A short two years in and we were at a turning point. Do the “Terrible Two’s” exist in relationships? After a recent argument my man and I had, I was beginning to think they do.

For a few weeks, things were somewhat rocky. With lots of traveling, working and unexpected expenses over the last month, we were irritable to say the least. We questioned our own happiness. The good news? We survived!

Some couples, however, are not as fortunate. They give up. They give in. They let frustration and painful words take over and ruin a potentially good thing.

Though raging outbursts of name-calling and yelling will never lead to a solution, it can sometimes become the path of choice when it comes to arguing. The heat of the moment takes over and next thing you know you’re kicking a whole in the wall.

I’ve learned, however, in our short two years together and our even shorter 9 months of living together, that arguing is a necessity. It is a form of conflict resolution. But, we are all human and sometimes when the opportunity to unleash bottled up emotions presents itself, we jump! However, arguing should be productive. It should reveal information, offer an opportunity to evaluate and communicate and most importantly, create a path for moving forward.

Here’s my advice to have a productive argument:

DO:

Take a moment

Sometimes, you just need a minute. Am I right? If your brain is telling you to pause, it is probably in anticipation of a wild outburst. Take that moment to breath, regain composure and develop a relevant, thoughtful and meaningful response to the matter at hand.

Evaluate the problem(s)

Discuss together what is actually bothering you. This can be a painful process as some things may be brought up that neither of you want to hear. For example, she hates how long your stories are and you’re mad she never listens. Or, he hates the way you kick his shoes out of your way and you’re mad he’s so sloppy. Now this is where things typically get ugly. It feels like an attack, so you immediately come to your own defense. Instead, just listen. Offer the respect of listening and processing the information. Then, when you’re ready, take your turn to vent. Say everything that needs to be said. Everything that you call your girlfriends about to complain. Everything you chug a beer for to wash away.

Communicate your feelings

There is no doubt that bringing up your issues with each other will elicit some serious emotions. Anger, annoyance, embarrassment, to name a few. Just like Nick Miller from New Girl, we don’t all feel comfortable expressing our feelings. It is difficult to express and admit these things – you become vulnerable. Expressing the reality of your feelings however should not be perceived as weakness. It is honesty and trust. The ability to share your emotions and thoughts with each other will strengthen your bond and intimacy.

Agree on how to move forward

Are these fixable problems? Is this worth it? Can we move past this? Ask yourself these questions. What are your personal answers? Then, ask each other and just chat. Take the time to be brutally honest with each other and get on the same page.

DON’T:

Bring up old brawls

“Well you’re the one who _______ last month.” We’ve all heard this, right? Bringing up old brawls is only adding fuel to a blazing fire. It is unnecessary and even dangerous. Old brawls that have no significance in your current argument are useless cheap shots that, when brought up, elicit more frustration and divert the path to resolving the current issue.

Resort to bashing

Attacking one’s character, skill, interests or looks is simply immature and wasteful. It is hurtful and digs the hole much deeper. Bashing is not going to solve the problem and it isn’t going to make anyone feel better. Calling someone a cotton-headed ninny muggins is really just a waste of time and energy. Bashing is a way to even create more problems in your relationship.

 Become passive-aggressive

Making passive-aggressive comments is the absolute worst. There is nothing more annoying, don’t you think? Passive aggressive comments set you up for failure. Its like saying, “I’m mad at you. But I’m not going to tell you I’m mad at you. Instead, I’m going to drop a hint that I’m mad at you and hope that you say something about it. Otherwise, we’ll keep dancing around the problem and I’ll keep being pissy.” How productive is that? Not productive at all. In fact, it is going to further your frustration!

 

There is no secret real secret on how to argue successfully. That’s why I’ve called it productive arguing. I can’t sit here and pretend that my man and I don’t argue. We certainly do our fair share of arguing. The key is to argue in a way that leads to a solution and leaves all parties feeling relieved and ready to move on.

 

How have you and your significant other avoided crazy arguments? What seems to work for you two?

 

 

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2 Responses to “How to Argue… Productively (and what not to do)”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Who is the Average Honey? Part 2 | Average Honey - August 14, 2014

    […] communicate with folks in the healthcare industry (dealing with health insurance is NO FUN), how to argue better, how to negotiate prices (we bought furniture), how to make smarter decisions and how to cook a few […]

  2. How to Argue Productively | CAMILLE N. SENNETT - August 15, 2014

    […] Published: Average Honey […]

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