FFTotD

I’ve read and read and read and read everything from Bertrand Russell to Dr. Phil, trying to be a better person. Frankly, I’m sick of it. Learning how to settle disputes and conflicts has always been a stickler for me. You can make up all sorts of “how to argue” points, but unless the two of you DO THEM, there’s no point! Here’s some I read today that I particularly liked:

You get to argue with plenty of people in this life, but you only get to love a few. Always keep that in mind and you might find yourself more predisposed towards kindness.

Arguments are, by definition, emotional rather than rational. Strong emotion negatively affects intelligence. For me, arguing is a non-productive signal that you need to discuss something when you cool down.

So what are the emotions at play? Understanding the other person’s perspective helps a bunch – but understanding your own emotional motives can be even more crucial. Often, they have nothing to do with the rational explanations you give yourself for your behavior.

Never argue when you are feeling any of the HALT feelings: Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired.

As odd as it sounds, I try and think of arguments as battles, and the relationship as the war. Whenever I’m in a situation where I’m tempted to go for broke to ‘win’ a particular point, I stop and ask myself this:

1. What do I gain if I ‘win’ this argument?
2. What lengths will I have to go to in order to ‘win’?
3. Does the importance of (1) justify the potential hurt or damage to our relationship?

I suppose my realisation was that it was fine to fight about things, and it was inevitable that such fights had the capacity to upset or hurt either party in the short or indeed the long term. What I strive to do now is only fight to the death if the issue is incredibly important. Otherwise, you’ll end up causing more harm to each other by *how* you argue than you would hope to avoid by raising the issue in the first place.

Or to return to my first analogy, remember that there’s not much point in winning the battle but losing the war.

I don’t try to ignore the instinct to win. I just define winning as behaving in such a way that an imaginary third person (as I conceive him or her) would deem be to be more reasonable and persuasive. – He Said What

One of the most annoying books I ever read was the Mars/Venus. It was annoying because his trite gender reductions were insanely true (to the relationship I was in). Like his arguing bit, it’s always been pretty accurate:

Feeling challenged, the man becomes focused on being right and forgets to be loving. The woman then becomes upset by his unloving delivery and defends herself from his sharpened expressions. Her tone becomes mistrusting and rejecting. Gray says that we need to remember that our partner objects not to what we are saying but how we are saying it.

“Most arguments escalate when a man begins to invalidate a woman’s feelings and she responds to him disapprovingly.” When a woman shares her frustration men go on the defensive. “Every cell in a man’s body reacts with a list of explanations and justifications designed to explain away her upset feelings.”

Except I fear I sort of do all of the above at once. No matter how many different arguing styles I try to learn, or “count to ten” reminders I give myself. I crumble in the face of conflict whether it’s traffic court, a boyfriend or someone here at work mouthing off to me for no damn reason.

Men have been socialised to think that they know what they are talking about. I know it’s changing, it’s really changing a lot. But that’s still around: ‘Men are powerful and what I say goes.’ Women internalise that too. It’s not just the blokes. Women get very frustrated, hysterical, when trying to get their point across because it seems that it just falls on the dead ground all the time. What they are saying is not being picked up and acknowledged and dealt with. 

 All couple disagreements are about power and control: who’s going to come out on the top. You have to be ever so grown up to start negotiating…

Why men and women argue differently

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4 Responses to “FFTotD”

  1. N Says:

    this is so hard.

  2. lazerfox Says:

    FFTotD?

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