1. PLAN FOR THE DISCUSSION
*Let go of anger generated by trivial issues.
*Deal with small but significant issues when they happen.
*Be assertive; if it’s important to you, it’s worthy of discussion.
*Deal with big issues as soon as possible, preferably when you’re both prepared to deal with them.
*Know what you’re fighting about. Be specific, limited and direct with your complaint.
*Bring up one thing at a time.
*Pick a good time for you both. Make and keep an appointment if necessary.
*Take some deep breaths, and try to be calm.
*Giving “the silent treatment”.
*Bringing up an issue at a time embarrassing to the other person.
*Gunny sacking – saving up little hurts and hostilities, then dumping them all at once.
2. BRING UP A CONCERN
*Use “I” statements (“I’m frustrated about…”).
*Choose your words carefully.
*Be specific and concise (one or two sentences at a time).
*Say what you really mean.
*Stay in the present; use current examples.
*Deal the person’s behavior, not personality.
* Generalizing – “You never…” or “I’m always…”
* Labeling, name caIling, character assassination.
* Mind reading – telling the other person what they’re thinking and feeling.
* Dwelling on past grievances.
* Blaming the other person for your problem.
* Hitting below the belt– purposely calling attention to known weaknesses or areas of sensitivity.
* Exaggerating – overreacting to a situation or making idle threats or ultimatums.
*Take your time to listen.
*Empathize—think about the other person’s message, what they may be feeling etc.
*Paraphrase, or ask for clarification.
*Attend with your body language, eye contact etc.
*Preparing your “defense” in advance.
*Treating your conversation like a competition.
*Take your time–count to 10, or more.
*Try not to take the other person’s statements personally.
*Be sensitive. Avoid fighting back when the other person is just letting off steam.
*Check out the other person’s feelings and thoughts.
*Use “I” statements; “When I hear…..I feel…….”.
*Take responsibility for your actions, and don’t be afraid to say “I was wrong”.
*Take a time-out if you need to collect your thoughts.
*Cross complaining: responding to the person’s complaint with one of your own.
*Ignoring the person.
*Belittling the person, or their concerns.
*Try to determine, what the particular problem or issue is.
*Try to solve the problem together.
*See if there is a way for each of you to get something you need/want.
*Keep to the subject. Try to resolve one issue before moving to another.
*Realize that not all problems will be solved in a day; it may take time.
*Consider the value of maintaining your relationship, during all discussions.
*Holding a position, or setting an ultimatum “it’s my way or the highway”.
*Walking out, name calling, generalizing etc.
*Presenting non-negotiable demands.
*Overwhelming each other with a list of concerns.
*Thinking the other person must lose if you are to win (and vice-versa).
*Call a foul when you feel a communication guideline has been broken.
*Be ready to forgive, or let some things go.
*If the fight isn’t resolved right now, make an appointment to finish it later.
*Allow for interim or temporary solutions.
*If the fight is resolved, try to finish with an expression of positive feelings that you’ve worked together successfully.
*Have a safety valve for excess emotion: jogging, biking, listening to music, etc.
*Breaking previous agreements.
*Continuing with repetitious, stale arguments with no progress being made toward resolution.
*Pretending to go along, or to agree when you really don’t.
*Withholding affections, or shutting down.