5 Things You SHOULDN’T Do When You Argue

1. Say, “Calm down”. Two measly words guaranteed to piss off your partner to the nth degree. “Lighten up” “Relax”  – yes these also fall under that same category and yes, I’m guilty too. These words result in the complete opposite reaction you want. In fact, in most cases, these “self-destructive instructions” heighten the original state that you’re trying to instruct to change. Author Seth Godin adds, “I was joking” should also be on the list, because its an “incredibly lame excuse for a failed interaction”.

2. Stonewall – Call it the cave. Call it being aloof. Regardless of the term, stonewalling is a defensive mechanism people revert to in order to not deal with the problem, period. Many of us have reacted this way as a child – going dead silent, and using non- participation as some sort of punishment. While you may have gotten away with it as a kid, in adult relationships, this is not an acceptable or productive way of dealing with things.

3. Swear. You’re pissed. Your partner’s pissed. The person that just yesterday you were swooning over suddenly is the one person you want to throw out the window. At the height of your anger, it’s easy to see your partner as the ultimate evil, your enemy and opponent. It’s easy to get defensive and nasty. It’s easy to use language that reflects the terrible mood you’re in. But don’t. Because in a few hours, or days, you will make up. And when the original issue of the argument is eventually resolved, the nasty words and names you called each other in the process may not easily fade.

4. Get into “You’re wrong” mode. You can present all the facts, complete with proof and analytics, but if you are in an emotionally heated debacle with your partner, the flip charts mean nothing. Of course if one person is completely off base a little reality and reasoning is needed. However, trying to prove the other person wrong and yourself right will get you nowhere. The immediate result you want is to be happy and to put an end to the terrible mood. Proving your partner is wrong is NOT the way to get there. Listening, trying to be compassionate, understanding and setting aside your ego however….

5. Play down your partner’s emotions. The worst thing you can do to someone when they are feeling emotional, distraught or upset is to ignore or play down their emotions. Example – your partner is feeling insecure and crying. In response you ignore. The result – anger. A person who does not feel heard or that their feelings have been disregarded can result in feeling disrespected, uncared for, unheard and voiceless. React this way to your partner and the result will be heightened distress, not a disappearance of the problem. Remember, just because you can ignore a problem for a while, it doesn’t mean it will just go away and it doesn’t mean it’s not your problem. Reality is, when you’re in a partnership with someone, their problems are yours, and your problems are theirs.

Here’s to arguing better…

Photo credit: Daniel Horacio Agostini

9 Comments

  • Reply February 9, 2011

    paulo

    great read, amy!

  • Reply February 10, 2011

    oreo

    What are some things one should so in an argument. They will inevitably happen n some instance of reality. Tips ?

  • Reply November 28, 2011

    Apa

    I hope i have read this article earlier..I just said something really bad to him..and now he said he has changed to way he sees me which is not a good thing at all..i really don’t know what to do ;(

    • Amy
      Reply November 28, 2011

      Amy

      Hi Apa,
      Nobody is perfect and it’s only human to make mistakes. What can actually help a relationship is if you learn and grow from the mistakes though. Perhaps you can speak to him and sincerely apologize for any damaging words you said, and discuss solutions on how the both of you can grow from the argument and get better at communicating during arguments.

  • […] came across this post on 5 things you shouldn’t do when arguing ( which was an insightful read) and really got me thinking about which one of those really hacks me […]

  • Reply November 5, 2013

    Pierre

    Re-digging and/or re-introducing past fights. Nom Nom nom!!

  • Reply November 23, 2013

    mimi

    but why guys never apologized when they are wrong and say nasty words. they always think they are right regardless. my bf who always think he is right all the time and push to blame to me. i dont understand i love him.

  • Reply February 5, 2014

    Alliya

    Nice article. It really helps, though I don’t know where do I stand right now coz we just started our relationship. Sometimes I want to disappear but I don’t think I can. I started to love him.

    The worst part of our relationship is that it all starts with a sex…. Then, we decided to be a couple just for the sake of sex… And we talk less because we are both from from different country and he’s not that good in English… 🙁 I hope this relationship will not end for ‘just a sex’

    Poor relationship right?

  • Reply August 8, 2015

    eve penman

    thank you for the great tips; very helpful information!

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