The ensuing “discussion” is rarely an open exchange of maturely cultivated points of view. But there’s a simple formula for turning conflict into a constructive conversation.
The problem with conflict, online or offline, is this: we think the goal is to win.
And this probably isn’t breaking news to you, but you can’t “win” an argument with someone you care about.
It feels like you can in the moment, but you can’t. That’s because even if you come out on top, you’ll end up disconnected from your opponent.
That doesn’t exactly create a romantic vibe.
Wouldn’t it be better to fight in a way that actually strengthens your relationship? What if you could throw down with your man…and come out the other side of the conflict even closer than you were before?
Fighting CAN be productive. It’s all about how you approach it.
Attorney Sean Jones has three suggestions for making fights fair and beneficial.[i] While his suggestions are specific to online fights, you can also use these tips in your relationship.
If you do, fights with your man will morph into something that makes you stronger as a couple.
1. Aim for Common Ground
This is critical.
Say you’re calling him out for not making a big deal of your birthday. You might start by mentioning how you handled his last special day. But don’t just list off all the stuff you did.
Instead, talk about how he FELT as a result of your efforts. Tell him you don’t really care about the specifics. You just want to feel special, too.
That common ground will set the stage for the rest of the discussion.
If you start by making a genuine emotional connection, he’ll have a much better chance of understanding where you’re coming from.
2. Keep Things Super Simple
In any fight, you’ll probably need to offer examples. You can’t just tell him you’re unhappy. You have to tell him what you’re unhappy about.
The temptation is to go into very specific detail. He’s a guy. He likes details, right?
Well, not in this situation. Instead, going into a lot of detail over every point will just pull focus from your core message.
If he’s been slacking in the romance department lately, stick to just a couple of broad examples. Like, maybe he stopped holding doors open for you, and he no longer dresses up for dates. That’s enough to make your point.
Go into too much detail, and you’ll be arguing about side issues you don’t really care about…like whether or not jeans can be “dressy.”
3. Deal with One Point at a Time
Finally, don’t overwhelm him.
A lot of us won’t venture into conflict until we’re upset about at least two or three things. That’s fairly normal. But don’t try to tackle all those topics at once.
Start with the thing that matters most to you. Find some common ground and keep your examples simple. When that one has been resolved, clearly state that you’re moving on to a new topic and then introduce the next one.
Then rinse and repeat.
A word of caution here. I wouldn’t take on more than two grievances in a single conversation. Even if you communicate like a champ, that’s a lot for him to deal with.
Fighting with your partner is never fun, but it doesn’t have to be torture. Instead, it can actually draw you closer together. Be passionate about finding emotional common ground, keep things simple, and deal with one point at a time.
Stick to those three tips to squash the squabble and move right back to romantic bliss.
[i] O’Connell, Joanne. “How to Stop Arguing and Actually Change Someone’s Mind on Social Media.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 28 Jan. 2017. Web. 02 Feb. 2017.