#12 Argue Effectively

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#12

Argue Effectively

In January, I dedicated a post to ‘Stop Arguing’ but in a relationship, the idea that you may never argue is too idealistic. When you live with someone, you’re bound to run into conflict and the solution isn’t to avoid the confrontation, but to approach it effectively.

The following eight suggestions – when followed – will allow disagreements to be addressed with respect and maturity.

  1. Use “I” statements only. Explain your position, your role in the conflict, and your expectations. Identify your triggers, explain your needs, and describe how you will work to bridge the gap in the conflict. Concentrate on your perspective here and work hard not to engage in finger pointing or blaming.
  2. Step back from your ego. In supportive partnerships, it is important to embrace our differences with respect and develop acceptance for the ways that our partners are different. There are mostly differences between us – not always rights and wrongs. If you feel you need to fight for being ‘right’ about something, ask yourself “why?” If it is only ego based, drop it.
  3. Be present.  Don’t focus on the past (unless you are reflecting for the lesson it is teaching you) – or worry about the future.  Try and stay right there in the present moment and what is happening there. Don’t allow your baggage to overwhelm the issue at hand.
  4. Pay attention to the issue. Try to understand why it is important to or distracting you. Is is a failed expectation? Something you didn’t know? Are you defensive? Why? Exactly what are you feeling and why?
  5. Don’t interrupt your partner. You can’t be a good listener if you aren’t allowing their complete thought to be articulated or expressed.
  6. Make sure you understand what you are hearing. If necessary, restate what you hear – paraphrase it – based on your understanding so that you get on the same page.
  7. Remember that most of us have good intentions. Try not to jump right to the conclusion that your partner is being an ass. Consider that they are experiencing frustration and give them space to talk about how they feel.
  8. Do not raise your voice or walk out. If you need a break from the conflict – honor that it remains unsolved and ask for a time out. Don’t threaten. People who feel attacked or threatened will get defensive almost immediately. Once that happens, the discussion is doomed.

Communicating with respect is probably the most critical aspect of a healthy relationship. Remembering that we each come into a relationship with different experiences, worldviews, expectations, and methods will go a long way. Resolving conflict is more easily accomplished when you know how to …

Argue effectively.

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#44 Stop Arguing

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#44

Stop Arguing

Arguing, what’s it good for? Arguments are rarely ‘won’. When you think you wond an argument, what did you win? The ‘loser’ at least learned something, right? But what did you get? Debating practice, ego satisfaction, and diminished brain power is all.

Reduced Brain Power

At times there are things that need to be debated, but most of the time, it just isn’t productive. You may want to argue the point, but what do you get from a useless debate? The more important question is what do you lose? I say you use effective brain power.

There is at least one thing we can probably agree on and that is that a person listening to arguments can learn something from both sides. But, what about the people in the middle of the argument? Are they even listening to the point or are they totally focused on being ‘right’ and ‘winning’? At what point does the onus of the argument shift from making a point to ego satisfaction?

Too much arguing creates a habit of looking for arguments more than for facts. We tend to get more deeply rooted in a rut as the defense continues and even avoid opposing evidence that may validate the other’s view so that we can be ‘right’. Ultimately, digging a rut and dismissing evidence doesn’t make us better thinkers at all; it diminishes our power.

Listening

Some things we argue about are based solely on fact and while we may think we are helping the other person learn if we have our facts correct, we’re really just challenging them – sometimes that completely backfires. If I say the earth is closer to the moon than the sun but you disagree, we’re either headed for a science lesson or a tug of war and chances are that the misinformed person will have negative feelings about the debate.

However, I say that nature is more important than nurture and you think it’s the opposite, we can both have solid positions based on our experience and current knowledge. These kind of debates are based on value, experiences, and poorly defined terms – often perspectives that are neither ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. We could argue all day on defining “what’s important in life” without any winner. In this position, the only logical, kind, and compassionate thing to do is to listen and both parties will likely learn something.

To break the habit of arguing, ask opinions and questions and then listen without judgement. You can ask for clarification but it’s best not to offer contrary ideas. This isn’t always easy to remember but with practice, your likely to be in less hot water and get to know people better.

It’s just a good idea all around in the effort of increasing your happiness and living your best life to …

Stop arguing.

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#147 Talk with an Old Person

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#147

Talk with an Old Person

So, perhaps the first thing we need to do is define ‘old person’. For the sake of this post, we’ll say that ‘old’ is 80+. So many of the conversations I have with individuals in this age bracket end up at some point with an expression that they feel invisible to society-at-large. Seemingly, our culture doesn’t openly value the old-old. If you happen to live in a community where there is a significant retirement population, you may have noticed that there are a lot of active, contributing old people these days.

I have a number of clients through the years that are older than 80…  people who drive, live independently, and feel the pain of being dismissed by their family and community. And yet, they are generally people with a lifetime of amazing experience, accumulated knowledge, and sound perspective. There must be something that you are curious about – even if it’s how they made the transition from big band music to rock & roll – or did they?

If your grandparents are still living, when was the last time you just sat down and asked them questions about their own life? Research tells us that recounting memories in our late life increases overall life satisfaction. It turns out that a ‘life review’ can be very helpful in allowing us to see that there were meaningful and contributory moments. Grab a pen and begin asking questions about your ancestral history – if for no other reason than to know it for yourself.

If your grandparents are not living, consider adopting an elderly person – at least for an hour or two. The conversation you have may be the highlight of that individual’s life. As a volunteer in a nursing home, with Hospice, or in the hospital, you’ll have an opportunity to talk with as many elderly people as you have the breath for. If volunteering isn’t your thing or if you are cramped for time, just make the time to engage with an old person the next time you see them in a line, at a restaurant, or shopping for groceries. Find a way to acknowledge their presence and listen carefully for a reason to validate their existence.

Doing this one little thing will enrich your life more than you can imagine. There is great joy in watching someone’s face light from the understanding that you ‘saw’ them. There is great learning to be done when you take time to listen to accumulated wisdom. And, there is great joy in giving of yourself in the most unassuming moments. All this because you made an effort to …

Talk to an old person.

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#304 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

Sharing a daily life lesson, tip, or hack; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#304

Listen carefully

Ahhh… If only we all did this!! What does it really mean to ‘listen carefully’? First and foremost – it means NO interrupting! Too many of us have the bad habit of not letting people finish a complete thought before adding our two cents worth. How can we fully interpret the context of what someone is telling us without the entire presentation?

Listening carefully means confirming our understanding of the words, the vernacular, and the reference point of the speaker. It’s nice when we are able to successfully infer meaning in a conversation but you know what is said about too many assumptions….

While it may not be necessary to utilize reflective listening in each and every exchange – the tools that technique teaches eliminates a lot of assumptive problems. When we mirror the statement of another, we are validating that we’ve received the message and most importantly – interpreted it correctly.

“Well I’m not doing that again.” said Diane

“In not doing that again – do you mean today or never – ever?” asks Pete.

It’s important to stop when we listen – to give our attention to the speaker. One of the greatest stories I’ve heard is of a man who pulled over to the side of the road after dating a woman only a few weeks to hear what she was saying about her father. When asked what he was doing, he responded “you’re getting ready to share a big part of your history with me and I’d want to give it my full attention.” That’s LISTENING.

Acknowledge receipt of the message in some fashion, even if it is with a quick “wow”, “that’s great”, or “no kidding”.  Having no reaction at all fails to communicate back that you received what was said. People want to be heard. Even if you feel defensive or become distracted – finish receiving the speaker’s comment and reply to THAT expression before moving on. Verify that they are finished with that thought before anything self-serving is introduced.

Our best friends typically LISTEN – which is – in large part – why they get that title. If you want to be a best friend learn to…

Listen carefully.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.