How to Solve Conflicts Without Arguing
We’ve all been there. One little disagreement gets blown out into an all-out battle-royal rife with criticism, blame and even name-calling. One issue gets balled up with 20 other things until no one remembers what started the fight and no one wants to even discuss it anymore. Nothing gets resolved and hurt feelings build up. This is the way most of us were taught to disagree. Or rather, this is what happens when we’re not taught how to properly solve our disagreements.
We argue because we have a problem that needs to be dealt with. To solve a problem, we need to have clear communication and a willingness to work things out. We also need a straight-forward technique for constructive problem-solving.
Below, you will find 8 steps to help you resolve problems without getting into an argument.
1. Get Control of Yourself
Breathe, relax and if you must, walk away from the situation until you are both calm enough to address the issue rationally.
2. Pick One Issue
Sometimes the little things build up, but it is important to deal with one issue at a time, otherwise the situation can break down quickly.
3. Use "I" Language
When we use statements with the word “you” in them, the other person becomes defensive or closes up. For example, “You make me crazy!” or “You never listen!” will start a fight. They also remove you from your responsibility in the situation and it is always important to take ownership of your thoughts, feelings and actions.
“I” statements are clear declarations. A statement such a, “I feel disrespected when I’m not invited to family functions until the night before” is difficult to argue with. You’ve owned your feelings toward a situation.
4. Ask for the Behaviour You Want
The best way to resolve a problem is to offer solutions. Tell the other person what you would like to happen so the situation can be resolved. “I would like to be notified at least 48 hours in advance so I can make sure my schedule is clear” is a reasonable request.
5. Stick to Your Issue
Remember to stay on track. You are dealing with one issue only, so stick to it. you can tackle other issues (one at a time) at later dates.
6. Listen and Restate
This is where things most often go sideways for folks. You will need to display a lot of composure. The other person will most likely try to argue, especially when this is a new technique and they are used to fighting.
Allow the other person to have their say, but stay firm. Don’t let them drag in other issues or diminish the importance of your issue. Once they have said their piece, reiterate your “I” statement.
You may have to go through this stage a few times before you can move on.
Some situations may require negotiation. This is a chance to explore what can be done to help the other person better respect you and your wishes. The resolution should be one that respects both parties.
8. Seal the Deal
Once you’ve decided what responsibilities you both will be accepting to make your solution work, make a definitive statement to add clarity to what you are both agreeing to:
I will __________________.
You will __________________.
It may help to print up a "Cue Card" to help you remember and smoothly move through these 8 steps. Remember to stay calm and focused during this process. With practice, it will be come easier for all involved.
© 2012 Rosa Marchisella