There’s a misconception that fighting in a relationship is inherently toxic but because everyone is different and has different feelings, you’re going to have some disagreements.
What makes an argument destructive rather than constructive is not the fighting itself but the way that we treat each other during the argument. Working through conflict in a respectful way is absolutely essential in gaining a greater understanding of another person.
Here are a few ways to practice conflict resolution so that you both come away from the argument feeling heard and understood.
1. Remain conscious of your feelings.
As you’re arguing, it’s easy for emotions to take over. Often, the things we say in anger, we will regret later.
To prevent this from happening, try to be aware of your feelings as they’re happening and make the conscious effort to not let your emotions affect how you treat the other person.
Don’t fall into insulting the person’s character as this will just lead to the devolution of the argument. And if, for a moment, you do let your emotions take over and start name calling, or hitting below the belt, make sure to apologize.
2. Focus on the issue at hand.
An argument should always be constructive rather than destructive.
Making sure that an argument is constructive means that the issue at hand has been resolved in a way that both parties can feel satisfied with. In order to make this a reality, both parties need to focus on the issue at hand with the goal of solving it by the end of the conversation.
Don’t get sidetracked into dead issues. If the argument is about a lack of communication don’t veer off into arguments about money. At that point, the intention of this conversation is more to complain rather than solve anything.
Neither person will leave the conversation feeling like they got what they wanted. Rather, it will feel like old resentments have been brought up again. If you find yourself or the other person veering off topic, recognize it and return to the subject.
Stick to the issue as close as you can, otherwise, it’ll just add on to the a long list of unresolved issues.
3. Listen to the other person’s perspective.
During an argument, one can be so strong in their beliefs that they refuse to hear the other person’s perspective. But it’s impossible to have a constructive argument if only one person gets what they want.
Each person should be given the opportunity to speak without interruption. Listen to what they’re saying and really try to understand where they’re coming from even if you don’t agree with them.
Let them know that you understand their point of view and that they should afford you the same courtesy. If the other person can see that you are sensitive to their feelings, the argument is less likely to devolve into hurtful comments.
Compromise is often upheld as the most essential practice in any healthy relationship and this is for good reason. A healthy relationship cannot consist of arguments where only one person leaves feeling like they got what they wanted.
Once you’ve heard each other’s perspective, you now need to take those differing perspectives into consideration and come to a decision that you can both agree on.
You should want to take the person’s thoughts into consideration, and if the other person’s needs are often in opposition with your own, that’s a conversation worth having.
Avoiding conflict is impossible. So, it is essential that you learn how to handle it in a constructive way. Learning how to handle conflicts now rather than later is the best way to make a constructive argument the most likely outcome.