HOW TO AVOID WORTHLESS FIGHTS –
THE RELATIONSHIP-SAVING QUESTION
Ever get into an argument with your spouse, partner, or friend in which each of you came from a different side of an issue? Did this argument slide into a fight? And if it did, how long did the fight last, and what was the aftermath?
You know what I’m talking about. We’ve all been there, perhaps all too often. You see the situation one way, and it’s very clear to you that you are right! What’s more, the “truth” seems so obvious to you. It’s as if the truth is standing 10 feet tall with a huge capital “T” in the middle of the room, so obvious that even a blind person could see it.
The truth is so clear, so obvious. Yet the other person still disagrees! “Golly-Bum”, you think, “How can you be so dense? (or substitute “dumb”, “stupid”, or “stubborn”). Maybe you’ve actually said those words to them.
Yet your partner still doesn’t “get it”. Your frustration mounts. You’re making no headway. Steam is building between your ears. Then you throw the fireball: “You’re wrong!” you shout. Now you’re into an emotional battle. This ain’t gonna end pretty.
These types of fights can have tragic outcomes. I’ve had clients who reported that it got physical, or they didn’t speak to each other for a week, or the police were called. While those outcomes are atypically severe, these types of fights leave scars afterward that are not easily healed. They can create lasting damage, and if they happen frequently enough, they can destroy your relationship.
Woohoo! There is a way to avoid these types of fights completely.
There is one simple question no one thinks to ask, that – if asked – can turn the whole situation down a more healthy path.
Here it is: When you sense your discussion is going down the path of division and anger, stop and ask, “I’m not sure I understand where you’re coming from. What led you to that conclusion?”
This question changes everything. It turns you both from a path to battle to one of inquiry.
It also leads to understanding. As the other person answers, you get to see her or his logic stream. You still may not agree, but you gain insight into how she or he interpreted the situation and put the pieces together in their head. You also may discover that the “truth” is not always so clear cut, and you may find there are other valid interpretations.
As long as you both stay in discussion mode and don’t degenerate to fighting, there’s hope. You still may not agree, but it becomes easier to negotiate a conclusion or action plan. You may find that you agree to disagree. The main payoff? You still remain friends!
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