Writings from Christine

How to Fight Fair and Win an Argument

by on August 24, 2012

Have you ever had a fight with your computer?  Everything is going fine one minute and the next thing you know the computer begins to act up.  It starts with one program and then leads to another.  You fight back by shutting down the dysfunctional program and trying to control or anticipate the next problem.  It retaliates back by doing something new and unexpected and before you realize what is happening you are doing battle with an inanimate object and sadly it is winning.

If fighting with an inanimate object is frustrating, try fighting with a human.  You begin on one topic and before you know it you are on another topic that has nothing to do with the original topic and you can’t even remember why you were fighting in the first place.  Talk about unpredictable and frustrating.  However, it does not have to be this way.  There is a better way to fight if you think of it in terms of how you handle your computer properly.

Pay attention to the problem at hand.  Just because your computer is acting up does not mean that the entire computer is bad or that it must be replaced.  It just means that something is not working and it needs your attention.  Just as you look for the underlying issue with your computer troubles, so you should look for the underlying issue at the root of your fight.  If the underlying issue is fear, then address the fear; if the underlying issue is guilt or shame, then address the guilt or shame.  Focus your efforts on the one area that is not working instead of all of the other areas, just as you would focus on your computer problem and not your office problem, your relationship problem, your car problem, and any other problem that you may have.

Patience, patience, patience.  Banging on your computer or pressing multiple buttons at one time when your computer is acting up will not solve your issue but it will most likely add to your troubles.  When fighting, be patient with yourself and the other person just as you would be patient with your computer.  Getting angry at the computer for acting up will not stop it from acting up and getting angry with the person you are fighting with will not minimize the tension but add to it.  Just as having an “I’m in charge” attitude with your computer is unproductive so is having an “I’m in charge” attitude with the other person unproductive.  Even if they are in a subordinate role, forcing someone to comply will only aggravate the problem.

Press the restart button.  When all else fails, press the restart button on your fighting just as you would on your computer.  Instead of continuing to fight, choose to walk away and come back to the issue later when emotions have calmed down.  The key is to come back later to the issue; walking away and not addressing the issue is as unproductive as never turning on your computer again just because it did not work that one time.  It is even more important to come back to the person with an attitude of working out the issue and not with an attitude of “I’m right and you are wrong”.  If you went to your computer and said, “I’m right and you are wrong” do you think it would respond better?  No.  So if you treat an inanimate object with respect, how much more respect should you treat another human being.

You have a winning relationship with your computer when you learn to address the problems and not ignore the warning signs that something is wrong.  Your relationships are similar when you take the focus off of yourself and focus instead on meeting the needs of the other person.  Winning a fight is not about getting your way, it is about coming to a realization that we are all in this process of life together.

Posted under: Communication Writings from Christine

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