People Arguing - 5 Tips To Getting on With Family At This Time of Year

Posted on December 26th, 2018 | By Marisa Peer

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Family gatherings can be a time of people arguing. Christmas is renowned for family fall outs. Here are 5 tips to help you argue constructively and get on with family this time of year.

It is unrealistic to expect to never row and never disagree. You only have to be around a group of two-year-old children to witness fighting and disagreeing about ownership of toys or sibling jealousy.

People arguing is okay as long as you do it constructively. The definition of a good relationship is how couples argue and even more importantly how they end the argument. Relationship experts can predict if a relationship will last, just by observing how couples argue.

Although you should try not to fight in front of children, seeing parents disagree and make up is not damaging when done in constructive ways. When children see people arguing and resolve it, it allows them to go out into the world with the same skills and not to fear disagreements.

Testing teenagers?

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One of the reasons teenagers can be so difficult is that they argue with their parents on every point. This can be exhausting, however, what helps is to remember they are learning the debating and negotiating skills that they will need in adulthood and these skills are essential for their confidence. The only people they can practice on are their parents and they do need to practice a lot.

The only way our children can assert themselves and confidently say no when pressured into drugs, sex, drinking etc is if they have had enough practice and freedom at home in saying no and being heard and respected for their opinion.

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Not arguing at all is unrealistic, but you can argue in a productive constructive way.

Here are 5 tips to arguing constructively with your partner or family members...

1. Stick to the point

Look at how you argue and learn to argue effectively. If you are arguing about your partner’s spending habits and digress into rowing about the fact that they are always late, don’t do the laundry or forgot your birthday, you can’t resolve the spending issue. To have healthy disagreements, only argue about the issue/subject and don’t veer from it.

2. Resolution with solutions

Work towards resolving it - the whole point of people arguing is to find solutions. You are not arguing to make someone else ‘wrong’ or to make them feel bad or to point out how useless they are and how superior you are. You are arguing to resolve something, so do it in a confident, productive, solution orientated way as if you were at a business meeting, which means treating the other person with respect.

3. Listen up

Don’t interrupt. You have two ears and one mouth for a reason - to listen more and talk less. When you respect the person enough not to interrupt, you then have the leverage to ask them to do the same. When you each listen, you don’t need to keep repeating yourself, it’s no longer necessary.

4. Argue like a pro!

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Argue like an adult. Name calling is childish and also counterproductive, it does not help you to resolve anything. If you would not argue like that at work, then don’t do it at home. Character assassination does not have any benefits, so don’t fight dirty by insulting the other person, it just makes you look as if you have no negotiating skills and have to resort to name calling. See people arguing merely as negotiations and you will deal with them in a more effective way.

5. Talk about yourself - how do you feel?

Good communication involves sharing insights. The other person already knows what they have done. You are giving no insight into you and how you feel when you say things like:

  • “You do this…”
  • “You said that…”
  • “You went there…
  • “You were supposed to…”
  • “You forgot...”

In order for your partner to understand, you must express your feelings, by saying things like:

  • I get upset by... (instead of “you do...”)
  • I feel sad when... (rather than “you upset me by…”)
  • I was hurt about… (rather than “you hurt me!”)
  • I got angry over... (not “you made me so angry”)
  • I feel like this when... (instead of “you make me feel…”)

When you say “I…” you are explaining your emotions. When you say “you”, you are accusing the other person. Explain - don’t accuse - and you will become much more successful at communicating and resolving rows.

I understand how you feel...

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Just because I don’t agree with you, it doesn’t mean I don’t know how you feel. When you respond, don’t say: “I don’t agree” or “you’re wrong”. Instead try: “I don’t agree, but I understand how you feel / why you feel that way”.

Don’t say:

  • “You’re wrong”.
  • “You’re crazy!”
  • “What are you on about?”
  • “Have you got rocks for
  • brains?”

It is really important to say:

  • “I hear you”.
  • “I get that you feel this way”.
  • “I understand what you’re saying/feeling - even if I don’t agree with it”.

We all need to feel heard, just as much as we need to feel understood. Sometimes it’s best not to try to justify your behaviour, but just say “I’m sorry you feel that way.”

“I’m sorry you feel that way.”

In summary, learn to respond to conflict constructively and end the argument well, so you have no fear about people arguing. Don’t go into punishing or refusing to speak to the other, refusing to hug or make up. How you end a fight with your partner is a good indicator of whether you will stay together.

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When it comes to people arguing, those that can apologise actually demonstrate that they are confident, have high self-esteem and are very solution orientated. Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness, but of strength, inner confidence and resolution.

Remember, it is always more important to do the right thing than it is to be right; sometimes it is more important to be kind than it is to be right.