7 Argument Strategies to Avoid
The farmer’s son told his sister that she was dumb for not understanding arithmetic, and walked away without answering her question. The farmer who’d overheard the conversation, comforted his daughter, instructing his son to write an apology, and nail it to the mahogany fence outside. The words did not come easy, and the wood was difficult to penetrate, but the son did what his father asked.
Over the next couple years, the farmer continued this tradition, instructing his son to nail an apology to the fence each time he said something hurtful. As the years past, the son found himself adding fewer apologies. On the day of the son’s thirteenth birthday, the farmer caught him yelling at his sister, and asked him to meet him by the fence. The son wrote an apology, and waited as he was instructed.
The farmer approached his son, telling him he had become a man, and that he could now remove the previous notes and start anew. The farmer sat down on an old log, as the son went to work. When he finished, the father walked along the fence, which now had many scars. He put his hand on his son’s shoulder, and spoke gently.
“Every time you say words of hate, it’s like driving a nail into your bond with that person,” explained the farmer. “The nails may rust and fall out. Your actions may wither and be forgotten. However, the scars will always remain.”
The easiest way to avoid hurting those you love, is to avoid saying unkind words. There are several common phrases used in heated arguments that do more harm than you could possibly imagine. This is what I call the Argument Blacklist:
1. “Everybody cheats. So, get over it!” When we’re caught doing wrong, particularly men, one of our first responses is denial. When his actions are proven without a doubt, his next defense is to pass it off as not being a big deal. If it is important enough to your partner, it should also be important to you.
2. “Blah blah… Relax.” When we belittle somebody’s feelings, by telling them that they have no right to be upset, we are telling them they are not important. We are saying that what matters to them, does not necessarily matter to us. It is easier to tell someone that they are being unreasonable, then to face their accusation. Listen, understand, and have empathy. There is no such thing as a problem that is too small, if it’s important to your partner.
3. “I’m walking out this door, and you’re never going to see me again. Well, are you going to stop me?” When we test our partner’s love by threatening to leave, several things are going on behind the scenes. One, we are seeing how easy it would be for them to let us go. This shows a lack of confidence. Two, we are positioning ourselves in a place of power, by holding something over the relationship, we assume our partner does not want to give up. Save the breakup card until you’re ready to use it. Otherwise, your lover might (rightfully) call you on your threat, and watch you walk away.
“People we attract into our life are reflections of who we are, therefore become first what it is you want to attract.” – Rivers ext. 5273
4. “So, I had sex with your best friend? You cheated on your math test in third grade.” The idea of this argument strategy is to bring up a past indiscretion of your partner, to take the heat off the misconduct you’ve been accused of. The problem is, we shouldn’t keep score in relationships. What has happened in the past is done, and should not be brought up again. If you have done your partner wrong. Don’t make excuses. Admit what you’ve done, tell them how you plan to making things right, and promise you’ll never hurt them the same way again.
5. “You knew I was a jerk when you met me!” Part of being in a relationship, is trusting our partner will work to improve themselves along with the relationship. We should never feel like we have to change to meet someone’s expectations. However, we should be willing to compromise to meet our partners needs when the situation calls for it. By saying that you’ve been immature in the past, does not give you an excuse to continue the same actions. Good relationships are expected to grow, and our ability to mature along with them is imperative.
6. “That’s it, I’m done.” It’s easy to get frustrated in a heated debate. However, if you dismiss a problem, refusing to talk about it, it will remain a weak spot in the relationship. If you absolutely need time out from the discussion, tell your partner you can’t talk anymore, but that you will rejoin the conversation later. Give them a rain check for a specific time and day, so they know you are not just dismissing their feelings.
7. “You’re a (fill in the blank).” Name calling made us feel better as a kid, and some adults never grow out of it. Instead of feeling like you have to defend yourself when your partner calls you out on a weakness, listen to what they have to say. They just may have some advice to make both your lives easier.
“When you look in the mirror and you see what you see…if you were to be looking at what you see in the mirror, would YOU want you?” – Amelia ext. 9772
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