How to fight fair


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Examines how the English language can be unwittingly manipulative. And while we think we're communicating clearly, we are subtly hurting each other. This is most true when arguing or disagreeing. Learn some of the bad patterns of speech and the armaments we use during our wars (arguments!). Learn how to spot them so you can then take the high road and partner with each other to develop solutions that suit everyone.

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  • 1 hr 15 min to 1 hr 30 min
  • Why do we fight? - What else might one feel as an underlying emotion to anger?DepressionSadnessInsecurity(any emotion that is not typically considered a ‘positive’ one.)
  • What Complicates– at end: so let’s look at these things a little more closely. I have examples and I’m sure you will, too!
  • Much of our - . Ask listeners to give examples of things they think they do with no purpose.
  • Much of– example 1, is politeness required from the customer? What purpose does it serve if we give politeness or if we do not?Much of – example 2, what does ‘yeah but’ really convey to the listener?
  • The English Lang– Explore the two questions? I’ve heard both! WHEN is it a good idea? * perhaps when you have to deliver sad news, or the information you’re delivering is very precise WHEN is it a BAD idea? * perhaps when you feel you may be turned down or rejected – comes off as ‘trying to convince’ someone
  • Our Society– when I say “entitlement”, what do you think of?In some societies, the needs of the family or the community are put ahead of the needs of the individual.Our society often emphasizes the needs of the individual over that of the family or even society. This can result in “it’s all about me” attitudes that never consider others in our sphere.
  • What we intend– in the second example, is Spouse 2 hurt? Likely. Is this Spouse 1’s fault?* Why should we care about whether or not Spouse 2 took it the wrong way or heard a bad message?
  • Sometimes life– These are examples of something festering over time.Periodic blow-ups are usually a part of this pattern. The spouses may have discussed these things, but there is still something left on the table.
  • Underlying issue: Why isn't our home/relationship important enough for you to remember the little things?Screen Time – This isn’t so much of an issue for the TV with the Hopper and DVRs and TiVo, but it can be an issue with the amount of time. Underlying issue: Whose interests are more important? Us or yours? And where do I fit in?Underlying issue: How come you want to spend time apart from me? Why do your needs take precedence over mine?
  • 4. My Family/Your Family: Underlying issue: My family is important to me and if you don't like them, maybe you won't like me in the future. This can be extended to include religion and holiday traditions.5. Working too much: Underlying issue: Your work is more important than our family. For the working partner: I work hard to help create a stable life, why can't you support me?6. Parenting: Underlying issue: If you don't do it my way, the kids are going to be giant failures (and it will be your fault!)
  • 7. Sex - Underlying issue: Do you still find me attractive? Are you going to have an affair?8. Money – Underlying issue do we value the same things?
  • Turn “fighting” -- after 2nd Paragraph:Often, "winning" just to "win" means “losing” your relationship over time. In addition, the battle to win becomes a war and couples (friends, family members) find themselves resorting to using more and more desperate reactions and behaviors in order to win the war.
  • Rewriting– special point on #’s 4, 6
  • Rewriting cont.– special points on #’s 7, 10
  • Rewriting, cont– #14 is probably one of the more common ones… discuss
  • Rewriting Cont.– discuss #15 – taking a break, time-out – even make an appointment (and keep it) to continue.If your “argument” is nearing 20 – 30 minutes, it may be a good idea to take a break! “Hey, we’ve been at this for a while and I feel like there’s more to do, but I’m beat! How about we plan on finishing this up after dinner when we’ve both had a chance to regroup and think about what we’ve already talked about?”
  • Other – be careful with this; not everyone responds well to humor!
  • How to fight fair

    1. 1. Making Disagreement Productive
    2. 2. About me:Susan H. Peterson, MA/MFT, CAC II candidateBA – English, Western New England University, Springfield, MAMA – Counseling, Argosy University, Denver, CO20+ years working in IT, ending as a Project Manager for benefit enrollments withHewlett Packard.Did a career change and in 2011, opened my own counseling services agency.Owner/Therapist at Rocky Mountain Peace Path, LLC409 S. Wilcox Street, Ste. C-9Castle Rock, CO 80104609-558-2949 /
    3. 3. Why do we fight?• We characterize fighting as an activity related to the emotion of Anger.• Anger is often considered to be a more socially acceptable expression ofless acceptable emotions:• A man may be judged poorly if he shows fear, so he fights• A school child may have low self-esteem and so will act out or bullyothers• One spouse may berate the other spouse because they are anxiousover money• We also fight because we feel strongly about our view on a topic and havea very strong emotional need to be heard.
    4. 4. What complicates the situation?• Much of our communication is designed to get what we want, but notnecessarily in a nice way.• The English language can be very manipulative.• Our society encourages individual needs and fulfillments, resulting inentitled attitudes.• What we intend to communicate is not always what is heard or understood.• Sometimes life just moves too fast and we miss opportunities to fix thingsright the first time.
    5. 5. Much of our communication is designed to get what we want, but not necessarilyin a nice way.Try to think of anything you do from which you get no benefit. We don’t doanything, including talk (or argue!) without some purpose.• Eat• Drink• Sleep• Have sex• Work• Exercise• Break the law• Argue• Hurt others• Etc.
    6. 6. Much of our communication is designed to get what we want, but not necessarilyin a nice way.Example 1When we go to a restaurant, wait staff are trained to give us a polite greeting,ask “How may I help you?” and say “Thank you.”We say “I want” and “Give me.”Yet we base our tip on their politeness.Example 2When someone suggests something (a movie), we often give the “yeah, but…”response if the recommendation doesn’t suit us.
    7. 7. The English language can be very manipulative.Choosing your words!• Is choosing your words a good idea?• Is it seen as being calculating?Example 1“Honey, I wanted to run something by you. You may or may not like the idea,and it’s ok if you say ‘no’, but even if you do………”Example 2“ Honey, I’d like your input on something.”
    8. 8. Our society encourages individual needs and fulfillments, resulting in entitledattitudes.But isn’t it a good thing to support individuals meeting their needs and findingtheir own fulfillment? YES!Doing so to the detriment of others is NOT. We live in a society, implying theexistence of others and a mutual benefit from that.Example 1Parent: “I’m sorry, I just can’t pay for the damage you did to your car.”Teen/Young Adult: “ You guys insisted I get a job and a car so you have to pay ifyou want me to keep the job!”
    9. 9. What we intend to communicate is not always what is heard or understood.Example 1Child to his parents: “I hate you!! You always say no!”In this case, we understand that because speaker is a child, they are most likelyexpressing frustration rather than true hatred of the parents.Example 2Spouse 1 to Spouse 2: “I’m not going to see that movie. It’s a stupid kidsmovie!”Spouse 2 may hear: “You must be pretty immature!”In this case, criticism of the movie choice is received as a personal criticism.
    10. 10. Sometimes life just moves too fast and we miss opportunities to fix things rightthe first time.How many of you have been able to stop and clear up an issue with someonebefore it explodes, or worse, festers for a long time?Example 1Spouse 1: “No way can you manage the checkbook! Remember that time youbounced a check?” Spouse 2: “That was 20 years ago! I can’t believe you’re stillon that!”Example 2Spouse 1: “I forgave my spouse for cheating on me all those years ago, but whocan blame me for getting angry when s/he is talking to someone gorgeous?”Bringing things up repeatedly is an indication that there is still work to be doneto resolve the issue.
    11. 11. So What Kinds of Things Do We Fight About?1. Small things left undone around the house – didn’t refill the toiletpaper (or worse, put it on the wrong way!), a coffee mug left in thesink, dirty socks not in the hamper, lights left on in an empty room, etc.2. Screen time – what shows to watch, who gets the remote control,spending too much time on the TV, video gaming, computers(Facebook, etc.)3. “Me” time – when people come together as a couple, they oftenspend as much time as possible together. The reality is that there’s acertain amount of healthiness in taking time for yourself. Afterspending so much time together, it can become difficult to swallow ifthe other person wants a break from you! And if you’re on board withthat, it sometimes feels like the other person gets more of that “me”time than you. (Waverman, 2013)
    12. 12. So What Do We Fight About? (cont.)4. My family/your family – for couples, the person you are with usuallycomes with a family and a family history. Balancing their familyrelationship needs with your own (and vice versa) is usually easier saidthan done.5. Working too much – This could be one person in a relationship, both,or a parent to a child. Whenever there is a relationship that feels thelack of presence of someone, this can become a fight topic.6. Parenting – Ideally, parenting would be a “team” sport, but somedecisions have to be made in the moment. Sometimes the “team”members simply disagree on an approach or solution to a parentingissue. (Waverman, 2013)
    13. 13. So What Do We Fight About? (cont.)7. Sex (or lack thereof) - sexual intimacy can be a source of stress, especially ifthe couple has mismatched levels of sexual desire, either naturally or because ofextenuating circumstances like stress, work, or illness. When a couple is fightingabout sex, even the simplest signs of affection become loaded with deepermeaning.8. Money! – Many people value money differently. One person may be aspender and the other a saver. Decisions about large purchases or long termfinancial pictures need buy-in from both partners - and differing values aboutmoney can jeopardize your financial and marital future. (Waverman, 2013)Etc….
    14. 14. Turning “fighting” into “healthy conflict”How a person handles conflict will often determine how the other person reactsor behaves.In order to find successful resolution its important that disagreements beviewed as a process that needs care, respect and improvement and not as ameans to an end and not as an opportunity to win a fight.Because emotions are typically rising as an encounter turns into an “argument,”it becomes harder for the participants to refrain from using tactics that will givethem an edge in the conflict. We call these tactics “Dirty Fighting” tactics.The more participants can refrain from these, the better chance they have ofbeing heard, hearing the other person, and resolving the conflict.
    15. 15. Rewriting the Dirty Fighting Tactics1. Do not bully your partner.2. Do not use "the atom bomb" (scream, explode or intimidate).3. Do not assume your partner has made an unreasonable statement orrequest.4. Do not "mind-read," "psychoanalyze," jump to conclusions or makeassumptions.5. Do not dismiss your partner’s statements.6. Do not move the “goalpost” (switching the subject by using counter-accusations (blaming) or creating diversions (distracting or changing subjects)).
    16. 16. 7. Do not bring up more than one issue or complaint at a time (known as"kitchen sinking").8. Avoid name calling or character assassination.9. Avoid the self-pitying victim/numbers game ("just look how often Ive ...").10. Do not interrupt or talk over each other.11. Do not blame or invalidate your partner for something she or he cannothelp or do anything about (parents were alcoholics, he or she was adopted,etc).12. Do not humiliate, insult, rub in old faults or make unfavorable comparisonsto others ("why cant you be more like Joe next door- hes a real man").Rewriting the Dirty Fighting tactics, cont.
    17. 17. 13. Do not use "crazy-making" tactics such as trying to make your partnerdoubt his or her own senses by denying the obvious, intentionally beinginconsistent, creating double meanings, using coded language the othercannot understand, deliberately being unclear or generally making themfeel that theyre "damned if they do, damned if they dont“.14. Do not use exaggeration, sarcasm or ridicule or anything that will makeyour partner feel like he or she is inferior.Rewriting the Dirty Fighting tactics, cont.
    18. 18. Rewriting the Dirty Fighting tactics, cont.15. Do not use “stone-walling” or giving the cold shoulder (silence, pouting,ignoring). Its OK to find a safe corner to reflect or process the conflict butwalking away from you partner without an explanation of “I need a littletime to get myself under control” only serves to cut your partner off andshuts down all communications.16. Do not use the “Dirty Fighting List” as a dirty fighting tactic – It’s notyour job to point out to your partner when they’re using these tactics –your job is to break yourself from the habit of using them!
    19. 19. Other tactics….• If the fight is getting too serious for the topic, tell your partner “If youwant to continue this fight, you’ll have to do it with no clothes on!”• Take note of the other person’s feelings during the fight. If there’s roomfor an apology (“I’m sorry I said those hurtful things…..”) then do it –leave the relationship better for having made it through.• Suggestions for others???
    20. 20. BibliographyWaverman, W. (2013, 05 09). MSN Lifestyle. Retrieved 05 09, 2013, special thanks to Dr. April Young, Assistant Professor at ArgosyUniversity, Denver, CO, for making the Dirty Fighting List (origins unknown) tome.