Have you ever noticed that arguing usually leads nowhere constructive? You may say things in the heat of it all that you wish you hadn’t, or perhaps you didn’t coherently communicate what you DID want to say. Butting heads is stressful, to say the least. And not the most successful way to have a great, mutually respectful relationship, and obviously not the most ideal way to arrive good decisions and agreements.
There are 3 Golden Rules that can prevent those tension-filled arguments and reduce some of the resulting damage:
Golden Rule 1: Nip It in the Bud
If there is a particular person that you find yourself arguing with and you can’t cut them out of your life (because who needs constant fighting that goes nowhere), then have a quiet and respectful discussion with them at a moment that you are in better communication, and ask if you and they can form an agreement on a few things:
1. If either of you feels an argument coming on, ask the other person if you can discuss it a little later. Nip it right in the bud before it blooms into full scale anger.
2. The best bet is for each of you to go for a little walk if that is possible and get some space and work out in your head what it is you want to accomplish in the “discussion” and how to present it logically and calmly.
3. Sit down at the named time and agree that one person can start by presenting their viewpoint and that when they are done, the other will acknowledge them (“I totally understand what you are saying”) and then present their ideas till they are done. Then the first person acknowledges the second and so on.
4. Agree to be respectful. Even if it is the boss and a staff member, each may have their own views on what is being discussed. You may not even arrive at a total agreement but you can agree to disagree and work out a compromise.
Golden Rule #2: Privacy Please
Never argue in front of other people or where you can be overheard. Take it outside or in a private, sound proof office with the door closed.
1. It can be upsetting to others to overhear arguing.
2. Having others around may mean interruptions that further throws gas on the fire.
Golden Rule #3: Written Agreements
There is a famous saying: “If it isn’t written, it isn’t true.” When you make an agreement on something, it is really best if it is written up either in a memo form and put in each party’s file; or if it is a policy for the office that you have hammered out, make sure it gets put in the policy manual so all know what the game plan is and are on the same page. Days, weeks or years later, you don’t want an argument that tests memories of what may or may not have been agreed to, and so having it in writing can prevent that.
You don’t need boxing gloves to solve arguments. Just care about the relationship and the other person and agree to work it out as outlined above.