Saturday, July 17, 2010

Conflict Resolution and Anger Management Relationship Advice

Do you and your partner spend a lot of time in heated arguments? Do you dread the words "Let's have a discussion? Is it getting harder and harder to relate in your relationship?
Since the ability to relate, have open communication and discussions are all keys to having a successful relationship, the following are the Top Five Tips on How to Avoid an Argument With Your Partner:

1) Start All Conversations With Something Positive:
One of the reasons why some couples want to avoid having discussions is that they associate discussions with something negative or that there is a problem of some sort.
Another reason is that people start off by blaming or pointing out something that the other person did wrong right off the bat that cause the partner on the receiving end to be defensive, reactive, hurt or wanting to retaliate, especially if the first partner frequently starts their conversation off that way.
What often happens then is the partner who wants to have discussion starts getting frustrated, and angry because the other partner is doing what ever they can do to avoid the discussion whether that is trying to cut the conversation short, trying to change topics, ignoring the partner, being tentative or even reactive as a way to throw off the other partner who wants to talk.
The solution, then for the sake of a positive upstate in the relationship is to always start the conversation on a positive note.
For example, say something good about what you and your partner is going to talk about, about the benefit or positive outcome for the relationship that the discussion will be bring about, or give your partner a personal compliment, say how you appreciate them or how hard they are working for the family - just anything that you can think of that would make your partner happy, not what would make you happy, but will make your partner happy.
Next open your discussion regardless whether it is something positive or negative, fun or stressful. The result will be that your discussion will flow much smoother because everyone is feeling good and feeling appreciated.
Then just as important as starting the conversation with a positive statement or compliment, wrap your conversation up on a positive note, regardless of whether you were able to resolve what you are talking about or not, even if it is just thanking your partner for their time and attention. It will set the mood and positive association for the next time you have a discussion.

2) Seek To Connect Before Starting Your Discussion:
A little known secret about discussions is that connection is really important, before and during your conversation.
When you and your partner are both relaxed because the two of you have connected, it prevents tension in your bodies. This tension is what often causes a flight or flight reaction in your body which can fuel arguments because you will have a lot of adrenaline in your body that can result in anger and emotional outbursts.
So connect with your partner in which ever way you would normally connect whether that is on a emotional level, or you if connect through talking about a neutral or fun topic, connect through touching or going for a walk if you like doing activities together.
In this relaxed state, you and your partner will also be more open to discussions as well as being aware of how much you love each other, which makes it harder to get angry or frustrated when it's time to get to the heart of the issue you are discussing. 

3) If In Doubt, Check It Out:
In a world where we are always on the move and in a hurry, we often jump the gun and make assumptions about what our partner is saying or is about to say.
This often leads to a lot of miscommunication, as well as frustration for the partner who is trying to talk because they are not being able to get out what they are saying or because words are being put in their mouth that they had no intention of saying.
As well the partner who is jumping to conclusions may be going on the defensive or reacting for no reason. So if you are in a hurry be honest and say you do not have time to listen and reschedule or be patient and let your partner have their say.
Then and only then, if you are not sure what your partner is saying or what they mean, ask them to further clarify or give an example of what they are saying. Saying "What do you mean by that?" often comes across as being a defensive reaction which in turn may make your partner defensive or on guard.
So in a calm and curious manner, just ask for further clarification or ask if there is another way they can describe what they are saying for further clarification. Using the term "clarify" or "clarification" is a neutral way of saying that you don't understand so your partner won't feel like you are putting them down for having poor communication skills. 

4) Don't Take Anything Personal:
A really good tip on how to keep your cool and not go on the defensive during a conversation is to remember that nothing your partner says is personal. Even if your partner accuses you or blames you for the issue you are discussing, you are not responsible for their issues.
As individuals, not only are we all responsible for our own decisions, but our reactions as well, so if your partner has a bone to pick, wants to play the blame game or even play the victim that is their own issue not yours.
It is in the best interest of the relationship to maintain the ability to relate to one another, so the best way for the two of you is to be able to freely express your emotions and your opinions, so if your partner needs to vent, just let them. If you unconditionally love them even if they are trying to pin everything on you, they will feel supported instead of judged, so not only will they be open to having a civil discussion with you, both of you will be able to resolve your issue sooner. 

5) Agree To Disagree:
People often get disagreement and disapproval mixed up. A disagreement is a difference of opinion that happens on a mental or rational level, disapproval on the other hand occurs at the emotional level. Disagreement turns into disapproval when you start to withdraw emotionally from your partner.
For example, disapproval implies that your partner did something that you disagree with so therefore you can't love your partner as much as you did before, so you start to emotionally pull away from them.
Therefore there are two things you have to do in order to be able to learn the art of agreeing to disagree.
The first is recognize if you have started to go into disapproval and stop yourself in your tracks, then reconnect with your partner before you continue, as we suggested in tip #2. Otherwise your partner is going to feel you judgment and your emotional withdrawal, and more than likely they are going to lash back in defense or because they feel hurt and frustrated which of course is going to lead into an argument.
The second way is that now since you know what a disagreement is, you and your partner can learn to agree to disagree. If you and your partner can learn to agree to disagree, most arguments will pretty much be a thing of the past.
When two people or even just one member of a couple can agree to disagree it allows everyone to have their say or their own opinion, they both get to be right and no one is forcing the other one to switch their beliefs or be accused of being wrong. Agreeing to disagree means everybody gets to "win" their point of view, instead of "lose" or give into the other person's opinions.
If you and your partner both agree to disagree as well as respect each other's opinions, it also prevents an ongoing fighting match because no one is going to have an intense need to prove their point.
So in conclusion, with these simple tips, not only can you look forward to having discussions instead of heated arguments, you also can also look forward to being able to have a connected, loving and resolution based relationship as well.

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